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WESTERN 

BIRDS 


■ 



Vol. 10, No. 3, 1979 






WESTERN BIRDS 


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WESTERN BIRDS 


Volume 10, Number 3, 1979 


OCCURRENCE AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE 
MOTTLED PETREL 

DAVID G. AINLEY and BILL MANOLIS, Point Reyes Bird Observatory, 4990 
Shoreline Highway, Stinson Beach, California 94970 

The Mottled Petrel ( Pterodroma inexpectata) is much reduced 
from its former numbers. Due to the clearing of forests and predation 
by introduced mammals, it no longer breeds on the two main islands 
of New Zealand but is now restricted to a few islands south and east 
of the South Island, principally the little ones near Stewart Island and 
the Snares Islands (Warham et al. 1977). Its confinement to so few 
sites led these authors to express concern for the future of the 
species. They went on to summarize what is known of the species’ 
terrestrial (i.e., breeding) biology. Here we summarize information 
on its oceanic distribution. 

We report for the first time several occurrences of Mottled Petrels 
in California and Washington, and summarize some recent records 
from other areas along the North American Pacific Coast. We also 
summarize the diffuse literature and unpublished observations on its 
oceanic occurrence, and from this establish its oceanic range and 
seasonal movements. 


“NORMAL” RANGE 

Reports summarized by Watson et al. (1971) and Warham et al. 
(1977), plus more recent observations (Ainley, unpubl. data), in- 
dicate that the Mottled Petrel, during its late OctoJ^df-40-^arJv; June 
breeding season, feeds in Antarctic waters justjtfbrch jcLtfatJ jaabkdce 
from 95°E to 140°W (to 75°30 'S), with sca^r^iiKh"VT9ctaIs ; t^jSr - 
ring even farther east (Figure 1). Breeding^birds-“could easily’ -make 
the 2200 to 4000 km trip between nestifig and feeding grounds, 
given the 12-14 day spells of incubation (Warham et al. 1977)\ Since 
the species is abundant in southern wafers, during "the Ibreediog 

‘ sjii 


Western Birds 10: 113-123, 1979 


i u 1 1 1 < i > , , , 


MOTTLED PETREL 


season, most of the population must be present. A few individuals do 
occur elsewhere at that time {see below) , but substantial occurrence 
near South America, as implied in Palmer (1962), is not consistent 
with data presently available. 

Mottled Petrels are not present at breeding localities from early 
June through September (Warham et al. 1977). Neither are they 
very often, if at all, reported as beach-cast specimens in New Zealand 
during those months, as compared to breeding months (Roberts 
1975, Veitch 1975). Szijj (1967), one of the few ornithologists to 
have censused pelagic birds in Antarctic waters of the South Pacific 
during winter, found no Mottled Petrels in areas where they occur 
commonly during summer. These several clues suggest that the 
species is absent from South Pacific waters during the non-breeding 
season, and North Pacific records support this conclusion. 

Gabrielson and Lincoln (1959) listed four specimen records for 
coastal Alaska between mid-May and early August 1882-1911, and 
on that basis considered it to be a “straggler” to Alaskan waters. 
Kessel and Gibson (1978), summarizing the above plus many recent 
unpublished records, considered it to be a “very rare visitant” in 
southern Alaska coastal waters and an “uncommon visitant” in off- 
shore waters from May through October. As for pelagic waters of the 
northern North Pacific region, sufficient observations are now 
available to describe its status. Kuroda (1955), on a cruise from 
Japan to the western Aleutians and Bering Sea in June and July 
1954, encountered a number of Mottled Petrels on several days 
when east of 162 °E (at 50 °N) and South of 53 °N (at 164 °E), thus 
in the north-central Pacific. Wahl (1978), on a cruise track very 
similar to Kuroda’s (except that he also went much farther east on the 
extreme southern Bering Sea during June and July 1975), observed 
many Mottled Petrels between 45°N, 166°E and 50°N, 180°W, 
again in the north-central Pacific, and saw only four scattered in- 
dividuals in the southern Bering Sea. Hamilton (1958), on a cruise 
between Japan and Seattle during June 1955, a more southerly 
route than the above, observed many individuals between 41 °N, 
180°W and 44 °N, 155 °W, a few hundred kilometers south of the 
Aleutians. Sanger (1972), working in eastern and central North 
Pacific waters during 1955-1967, considered the species to be “com- 
mon” in w$J,g£§ 4 J60 km NW of Vancouver Island and northwestward 
into^l^Gu’i cj Alaska during June-August, and considered it to be 
ppasejjt Bjjt^re^utip^February-March. In July 1969, he (in Gibson 
^9^).- again fourif tH% species to be common between 52°N, 
il60?W (320 km south the Shumagin Islands, Alaska) and 50°N, 
r 14Q°W (760'knr WSW c§ the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Col- 
- urubia) rHdis^rtrbe track Tan from Seattle to Adak Island (western 


MOTTLED PETREL 


Aleutians) and back. When the cruise was repeated in early October, 
he observed only two Mottled Petrels, near 54 °N, 144 °W. Wiens et 
al. {1978), on a cruise from Alaska to Hawaii along 158 °W during 
late October-early November 1976, considered the Mottled Petrel to 
be “common” north of 45 °N and less abundant as far south as 
36 °N. For several cruises in coastal waters of southeast and western 
Alaska and the eastern Aleutian Islands in May-October 1975 and 
1976, they did not report this species (see also Bartonek and Gibson 
1972). Most recently, DeGange and Ainley (unpubl. data) con- 
ducted censuses on four summertime cruises criss-crossing almost all 
of the region just reviewed, as well as the Bering Sea from the Aleu- 
tians to Bristol Bay and Nunivak Island west to 175°E (at 57 °N). 
Their observations agree with the above but they also found many 
Mottled Petrels (flocks of up to 22 birds) in a narrow corridor extend- 
ing north from Adak Island, or just east of Bower’s Bank, to about 
57 °N, 179°W in the Bering Sea (see also Kessel and Gibson 1978). 

These records establish the Mottled Petrel as a common May- 
October resident in the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean, 
principally in association with the Transitional, Central and Western 
Subarctic and Alaskan Stream domains of surface waters (Dodimead 
et al. 1963; Figure 1). Noteworthy facts consistent with this associa- 
tion are 1) the lack of records in warmer waters of the far western 
North Pacific (Austin and Kuroda 1954, Kuroda 1957, Dement’ev 
and Gladkov 1968, Ornithol. Soc. Japan 1974, Nakamura and 
Tenaka 1977) and 2) the scattered summer records in the Bering 
Sea (except in the corridor east of Bower’s Bank where the species is 
abundant) and in the most western part of the northern North Pacific 
and adjacent Okhotsk Sea (Kenyon and Phillips 1965, Bartonek and 
Gibson 1972, Shuntov 1972, Nakamura and Tenaka 1977, Wahl 
1978, Wiens et al. 1978, DeGange and Ainley unpubl, data). 

P. inexpectata’s movements through the tropical Pacific, established 
by records independent of those cited above, provide still more clues 
about the periods of residence in South and North Pacific waters. 
King (1967, 1970) reported the species’ rapid migration through the 
Hawaiian Island area (175°E to 150°W), flying north in April and 
May and south in October and November (Figure 1). It appears now, 
based on new data, that the northward migration begins much 
earlier. Ainley (unpubl. data), on a cruise from Samoa to Los 
Angeles, noted many northward flying Mottled Petrels southeast of 
Hawaii between 24 and 30 March 1979. So abundant were they that 
the movement probably began at least a few weeks earlier and, based 
on the breeding season detailed by Warham et al. (1977), probably 
involved non-breeders or failed breeders. The route seems to be a 
diagonal one between New Zealand and the Gulf of Alaska, and 


115 


MOTTLED PETREL 


there appears to be no evidence for the circular route clockwise 
around the Pacific as proposed in Palmer (1962). The many birds 
observed by Beck (in Loomis 1918), 640 to 1600 km west of central 
California between 19 and 26 November 1906, must have been at 
the eastward edge of their migratory route and among the last of the 
southward migrants that year. The 540 birds counted by Mobberley 
(in Bourne and Dixon 1975) 112 km WNW of Cape Flattery, 
Washington, on 28 April 1972 must also have been at the eastward 
edge of the route but in the vanguard of the northward movement. 
Many of the birds observed by Wiens et al. (1978) were probably 
migrants, particularly those observed south of the Subarctic Front (at 
ca. 40 °N; see Discussion). 



Figure 1. The approximate oceanic range of the Mottled Petrel ( Pterodroma 
inexpectata) . 


116 


MOTTLED PETREL 


“EXTRALIMITAL” RECORDS 

Few records of the Mottled Petrel exist for areas outside the above 
described range. The first record for North America was a very 
unusual one as it was from New York (Wallace 1961). The bird 
perhaps flew north in the Atlantic, having probably been one of the 
individuals that occasionally fly as far east as the Drake Passage in 
the South Pacific (Watson et al. 1971). Szijj (1967) and Palmer 
(1962) are the only persons of whom we are aware who have 
reported this species in South American waters except in the Drake 
Passage; they reported it in Chilean waters and near the Galapagos, 
respectively. The species’ usual migratory route brings it near the 
Americas only in Alaska, thus the scarcity of North American records 
from British Columbia south is not too surprising. In the last several 
years though several have been reported. Their timing is rather in- 
consistent with the species expected occurrence. These records are 
as follows: 

British Columbia. A bird captured aboard ship, photographed and 
released 46 km SW of Estevan Point, Vancouver Island, on 24 
February 1971 was the first record for inshore waters of this province 
(Campbell and Shepard 1973). The day before, one was seen about 
280 km west of this locality (Crowell and Nehls 1971). During the 
next year, on 17 March 1972, one flew aboard another ship 480 km 
SW of the Queen Charlotte Islands. The specimen is now at the 
Vertebrate Museum, University of British Columbia (Campbell and 
Shepard 1973). 

Washington. Three inshore occurrences have recently been 
recorded. One live bird was sighted by Glen and Wanda Hoge (pers. 
comm.) on 28 February 1976 at Ocean Shores, the north jetty of 
Gray’s Harbor, Gray’s Harbor County. The sighting is still being con- 
sidered by rare bird authorities in Washington, but appears to be ac- 
ceptable (T. Wahl pers. comm.). This would be the first state record. 
Two dead individuals were then found in Gray’s Harbor County by 
Jack L. Smith (pers. comm.) while conducting beached bird cen- 
suses for the Washington Department of Game. The first was found 
on 2 March 1976 between Westport Lighthouse and the Twin. Har- 
bor access, and the second was found on 5 March 1976 just north of 
Moclips. The first is now a specimen at the University of Puget 
Sound; the second was badly decomposed, indicating that it prob- 
ably washed ashore a week or more earlier. 

Oregon. The first record for this state, and for the Pacific Coast 
south of Alaska, was a bird found dead 3 km north of Alsea Bay, 
Lincoln County, on 25 July 1959 (Wallace 1961). Its late stage of 
decomposition and the fact that it was in the “winter high tide line” 


117 


MOTTLED PETREL 


suggest that it probably washed ashore long before it was found. The 
incomplete skeleton is now at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 
Berkeley. More recently, on 16 February 1971, Narca Moore {pers. 
comm.) observed one 175 km west of Tillamook, Oregon, at RV 
YAQUINA station CP2A; and on 18 March 1972, Wayne Hoffman 
found two dead ones while conducting a beached bird census, 7 and 
10 km south of Newport, Lincoln County (Crowell and Nehls 1972). 
Both of the latter birds are now in the collection at Oregon State 
University, Corvallis. 

California. One of us (BM with Ane Rovetta), during a Point 
Reyes Bird Observatory beached bird census, found a Mottled Petrel 
at Point Reyes Beach, Marin County, on 25 February 1976. This 
was the first record for California. The study skin is now in the 
California Academy of Sciences (Figure 2). A few days later, on 28 
February, another was found at Cayucos Beach, San Luis Obispo 
County, by Dana Tryde (pers. comm.). This specimen is now at 
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. A third was 
found during another PRBO beach census at San Simeon Beach, 
San Luis Obispo County, on 13 March 1976 (DGA, Louise Squibb 
and Lois Felmlee). The skeleton is now at PRBO (Figure 3). Later 
that year, on 11 August, a freshly dead individual was found on a 
beached bird census at the mouth of the Mad River, Humboldt 
County (Winter and Erickson 1977a; specimen now at Humboldt 



Figure 2. Mottled Petrel found on Point Reyes Beach, Marin County, California, on 
25 February 1976; the first record for California. 


118 


MOTTLED PETREL 


State University, Areata). No more Mottled Petrels were recorded 
until 1 May 1977, when one was found alive but weak at Bolinas 
Lagoon, Marin County. The date and its extensive feather wear in- 
dicated it was at least 1 year old. It died on 8 May and is now a 
specimen at California Academy of Sciences. 


DISCUSSION 

Mottled Petrels breed at sites where waters are about 5-13°C, but 
during the breeding season they apparently prefer to feed at the 
northern edge of the Antarctic pack ice where temperatures are 
1-3°C (Figure 1). A great many icebergs are a part of this preferred 
environment (Ainley unpubl. data). During the non-breeding 
season, after rapidly crossing tropical waters, they frequent subarctic 
waters in the central and eastern North Pacific that are about 
5-13°C. Mottled Petrels conceivably have the opportunity to fly far- 
ther north to colder waters, and even to the edge of the Arctic pack 
ice. To do so, though, they would have to leave their preferred 
oceanic water and fly over the shallow shelf water of the northern 
Bering Sea. At the northern edge of the Antarctic pack ice in sum- 
mer, the Mottled Petrel is virtually the only Pterodroma present, and 



Figure 3. Mottled Petrel found on San Simeon Beach. San Luis Obispo County. 
California, on 13 March 1976; the third record for California. 


119 



MOTTLED PETREL 


is among the most abundant of avian species. In waters around its 
breeding islands at that time, many species of petrels occur abun- 
dantly including several Pterodroma. In North Pacific waters during 
the northern summer, the Mottled Petrel is the only Pterodroma (in 
those waters where the species regularly summers) and ranks among 
the most abundant of seabirds present. By flying farther north it 
would encounter many other seabird species in great numbers. If the 
long-distance movements of seabirds can be influenced by the ex- 
istence of unexploited resources in certain areas, then the Mottled 
Petrel provides a good example. 

The increased number of North American Pacific Coast records 
since 1971, compared to earlier years, is probably a result of inten- 
sified activity among bird watchers. For example, of the 10 P. inex- 
pectata reported within 100 km of the coast south of central British 
Columbia since 1971, 7 were found on organized beached bird cen- 
suses. Before 1971 a few people made occasional beach censuses 
along this coast. Since then the number has increased dramatically, 
reaching a peak of about 80 beaches regularly censused by 1975. 

Most of the Mottled Petrels (12 of 14) found from British Columbia 
south since January 1971 have occurred during the short period be- 
tween 16 February and 18 March. The timing is outside the species’ 
usual peak occurrence period in the North Pacific. The birds involved 
must have been non-breeders. Do non-breeders or failed breeders 
move away from nesting sites and into the North Pacific before 
breeders and juveniles do so in April and May? The close timing of 
records regardless of year does suggest a regular, though minor 
migratory movement. Ainley’s recent observations of many Mottled 
Petrels crossing the tropical Pacific in March further support this. 

Another pattern was visible in the “extralimital” occurrence of this 
species. Three birds occurred in Oregon and British Columbia within 
8 days of one another in February 1971; two birds occurred a great 
distance apart off British Columbia but within a day of each other in 
late February 1972; three birds occurred in Oregon and Washington, 
a great distance apart, again within a day of one another, in mid- 
March 1972; and 6 birds occurred in California and Washington 
within 14 days of one another in February-March 1976. The close 
dates of occurrence in widely spaced localities is further evidence for 
migratory movement to the North Pacific earlier in the year than 
previously expected. It thus appears that few truly extralimital 
records exist for this species. In fact, the only ones of which we are 
aware are those from New York, the Galapagos and northern Chile. 

The fact that 11 of 14 records (mid-February through mid-March) 
since 1971 were in two of a possible seven winters may provide 
some clues about the reasons for the more inshore occurrence during 


120 


MOTTLED PETREL 


some years. Using northern California as an index, the two outstand- 
ing winters for inshore Mottled Petrels, 1971-72 and 1975-76, also 
happened to be periods when Northern Fulmars ( Fulmarus glacialis ) 
were far more abundant than usual in coastal waters (cf. Ainley 
1976; Stallcup et al. 1975; Stallcup and Winter 1975, 1976a, b; 
Winter and Erickson 1977a, b; Erickson and Morlan 1978; Winter 
and Manoiis 1978). The latter species is abundant in the Gulf of 
Alaska during winter and moves southward and shoreward in con- 
junction with cold waters of high salinity (i.e., the characteristics of 
central Subarctic waters in the Gulf of Alaska; Dodimead et al. 1963, 
Ainley 1976). Possibly the same conditions brought the Mottled 
Petrels shoreward as well, since they too seem to prefer oceanic cen- 
tral Subarctic waters. 


SUMMARY 

Records in the literature are summarized to determine the oceanic 
range of the Mottled Petrel throughout the year and to establish the 
limits of its usual occurrence, especially in the North Pacific. The 
species is very infrequently reported within 100 km of shore from 
southern British Columbia south to California, but since January 
1971 “first records” for the species were established in each coastal 
province and state, with the exception of Oregon. These records in- 
volved individuals not in the breeding population. They were the 
result of increased activities among birders, were probably in the 
forefront of the species’ northward migration, and were probably in- 
fluenced by fluctuations in oceanographic conditions. 


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

We wish to thank the several persons who contributed details of 
their observations and other information: John Butler, Wayne 
Campbell, George Divoky, Glen and Wanda Hoge, John Luther, 
Guy McCaskie, Narca Moore, Jack Smith and Dana Tryde. DGA’s 
observations in the polar and tropical South Pacific were gathered on 
cruises funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Polar 
Programs; cruises in the western Pacific and Bering Sea were funded 
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Terry Wahl and Alan 
Baldridge improved the paper through their comments. This is Con- 
tribution 190 of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. 


121 


MOTTLED PETREL 


LITERATURE CITED 


Ainley, D.G. 1976. The occurrence of seabirds in the coastal region of California. 
West. Birds 7:33-68. 

Austin, O.L., Jr. and N. Kuroda. 1954. The birds of Japan, their status and distribu- 
tion. Mus. Comp. Zool. Bull. 109:279-637. 

Bartonek, J.C. and D.D. Gibson. 1972. Summer distribution of pelagic birds in Bristol 
Bay, Alaska. Condor 74:416-422. 

Bourne, W.R.P. and T.J. Dixon, 1975. Observations of seabirds 1970-1972. Sea 
Swallow 24:65-88. 

Campbell, R.W. and M.G. Shepard. 1973. Laysan Albatross, Scaled Petrel, Parakeet 
Auklet: additions to the list of Canadian birds. Can. Field-Nat. 87:179-180. 

Crowell, J.B., Jr. and H.B. Nehls. 1971. The winter season. Northern Pacific Coast 
region. Am. Birds 25:615-619. 

Crowell, J.B., Jr. and H.B. Nehls. 1972. The winter season. Northern Pacific Coast 
region. Am. Birds 26:644-648. 

Dement’ev, G.P. and N.A. Gladkov. 1968. Birds of the Soviet Union, vol. II (Transl. 
from Russian). Israel Prog. Sci. Transl., Smithsonian Inst., Washington, D.C. 

Dodimead, A.J., F. Favorite and. T. Hirano. 1963. Review of oceanography of the 
subarctic Pacific region. Int. N. Pac. Fish. Comm. Bull. 13:1-195. 

Erickson, D. and J. Morlan. 1978. The autumn migration. Middle Pacific Coast 
region. Am. Birds 32: 250-255. 

Gibson, D.D. 1970. The fall migration. Alaska region. Am. Birds 24:79-82. 

Hamilton, W. J., Ill, 1958. Pelagic birds observed on a North Pacific crossing. Condor 
60:159-164. 

Kenyon, K W. and R.E. Phillips. 1965. Birds from the Pribilof Islands and vicinity. 
Auk 82:624-635. 

Kessel, B. and D.D. Gibson. 1978. Status and distribution of Alaska birds. Studies 
Avian Biol. No, 1. 

King, W.B. 1967. Seabirds of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Preliminary Identification 
Manual. Smithsonian Inst., Washington, D.C. 

King. W.B. 1970. 1 he trade wind zone oceanography pilot study, Part Vll: observa- 
tions of sea birds March 1964 to June 1965. U.S. Fish Wildl, Serv. Spec. Sci. 
Rep. Fish. No. 586. 

Kuroda, N. 1955. Observations of pelagic birds in the northwest Pacific. Condor 
57:290-300. 

Kuroda, N. 1957. A brief note on the pelagic migration of the Tubinares. 
Yamashina’s Inst. Ornithol. Zool., Misc. Rep. No. 11:436-449. 

Loomis, L.M. 1918. A review of the albatrosses, petrels and diving petrels. Calif. 
Acad. Sci., Proc., 4th Ser., 2:1-187. 

Nakamura, K, and Y. Tanaka. 1977. Distribution and migration of two species of the 
genus Pterodroma in the North Pacific. Yamashina Inst. Ornithol., Misc. Rep. 
9:112-120. 

Ornithological Society of Japan. 1974. Check-list of Japanese birds. Gakken Co., 
Tokyo. 

Palmer, R.S. ed. 1962. Handbook of North American birds, vol. 1. Yale Univ. Press, 
New Haven, CT. 

Roberts, P.E. 1975. Sea birds found dead in New Zealand in 1965 and 1966. Notor- 
nis 22:151-161. 

Sanger, G.A. 1972. Checklist of bird observations from the eastern North Pacific 
Ocean, 1955-1967. Murrelet 53:16-21, 

Shuntov, V.P. 1972. Seabirds and the biological structure of the ocean (Transl. from 
Russian). Natl. Tech. Inf. Serv., Springfield, V A. 


122 


MOTTLED PETREL 


Stallcup, R., D. DeSante and R. Greenberg. 1975. The fall migration. Middle Pacific 
Coast region. Am. Birds 29:112-119. 

Stallcup, R. and J. Winter. 1975. The winter season. Middle Pacific Coast region. 
Am. Birds 29:735-740. 

Stallcup, R. and J. Winter. 1976a. The fall migration. Middle Pacific Coast region. 
Am. Birds 30:118-124. 

Stallcup, R and J. Winter. 1976b. The winter season. Middle Pacific Coast region. 
Am. Birds 30:760-774. 

Szijj, L.J. 1967. Notes on the winter distribution of birds in the western Antarctic and 
adjacent Pacific waters. Auk 84:366-378. 

Veitch, C.R 1975. Seabirds found dead in New Zealand in 1973. Notornis 
22:231-240. 

Wahl, T.R. 1978. Seabirds in the northwestern Pacific Ocean and south central Ber- 
ing Sea in June 1975. West. Birds 9:45-66. 

Wallace, W.M. 1961. Scaled Petrel in Oregon. Condor 63:417. 

Warham, J., B.R. Keeley and G.J. Wilson. 1977. Breeding of the Mottled Petrel. 
Auk 94:1-17, 

Watson, G.E., J.P. Angle, P.C. Harper, M.A. Bridge, R.P. Schlatter, W.L.N. 
Tickell, J.C. Boyd and M.M. Boyd. 1971. Birds of the Antarctic and Subantarc- 
tic. Folio 14, Antarctic Map Folio Ser. Am. Geograph. Union, New York. 
Wiens, J.A., D. Heinemann and W. Hoffman, 1978. Community structure, distribu- 
tion, and interrelationships of marine birds in the Gulf of Alaska. Final Rep., 
Envir. Asses. Alaskan Cont. Shelf, OCSEAP, NOAA, Boulder, CO. Vol. 
3:1-178. 

Winter, J. and D. Erickson. 1977a. The fall migration. Middle Pacific Coast region. 
Am. Birds 31:216-221. 

Winter, J, and D, Erickson. 1977b. The winter season. Middle Pacific Coast region. 
Am. Birds 31:367-372. 

Winter, J. and T Manolis. 1978. The winter season. Middle Pacific Coast region. 
Am. Birds 32:394-397. 


Accepted 7 September 1979 


123 



124 


Sketch by Narca Moore 


MORNING AND EVENING ROOSTS OF TURKEY 
VULTURES AT MALHEUR REFUGE, OREGON 

DEBORAH DAVIS, 1812 Center Street, Walla Walla, Washington 99362 


The tendency of Turkey Vultures ( Cathartes aura) to perch at 
some particular site other than the overnight roost, both in morning 
and evening, appears to be predictable and universal within the 
species. As with many components of Turkey Vulture behavior, very 
similar behavior is shown by the California Condor (Gymnogyps 
calif ornianus; Koford 1953) and the Andean Condor ( Vultur 
gryphus; McGahan 1972). At a large roost in southeastern Oregon, I 
observed the arrival and departure times of Turkey Vultures, and 
their movements to and from different perching sites. 


STUDY AREA AND METHODS 

The roost was located at the southern end of Malheur National 
Wildlife Refuge, Harney County, Oregon. The vultures roosted 
primarily in a row of cottonwoods { Populus sp.) at P Ranch Station. 
Before and after roosting, many perched about 100 m NW of the 
trees on a metal observation tower approximately 30 m high (Figure 
1) . North of P Ranch were the irrigated meadows of the Blitzen River 
Valley. Further north lay Malheur Lake, a vast marsh fluctuating 
from 200 to 20,000 ha and rich in avian and mammalian fauna. 
About 3 km SE of the roost were the lower slopes of Steens Moun- 
tain, characterized by Western Juniper ( Juniperus occidentalis) and 
Quaking Aspen ( Populus tremuloides) . The general region was 
characterized by Great Basin sagebush ( Artemisia sp.) — 
Greasewood ( Sarcobatus uermiculatus) association. 

1 observed vultures for 330 hours during late spring and mid- 
summer 1973. I watched the birds from the time of their arrival until 
the cessation of activity in the evening, and in the morning from 
twilight until their departure. Every 15 minutes I recorded time, 
temperature, wind and precipitation. 

Five Turkey Vultures were captured in a trap, such as that used by 
Coles (1938), baited with carrion, primarily carp ( Cyprinus carpio). 
A captive vulture was left in the trap as a decoy. I marked each bird 
with a 3 cm x 18 cm colored leg-streamer of plasticized fabric (Safety 
Flag Company of America, Pawtucket, Rhode Island), riveted to a 
USFWS size 7b band. 


Western Birds 10: 125-130, 1979 


125 


TURKEY VULTURE ROOSTS 


RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 

The number of Turkey Vultures roosting at P Ranch each night 
averaged 104 (68-151; n = 28). Although Nauman (1965) concluded 
that individual Turkey Vultures have specific preferred perching 
sites, marked vultures in this study showed no such preference. Fur- 
ther, data from sightings of marked birds suggest that at least some 
individual birds did not spend every night at the roost. For each of 
the four marked vultures that used the roost, I calculated the ratio of 
the number of days sighted to the total number of observation days. 
The mean percentage of the frequency of roost usage for the four 
vultures was 68% (58%-79%). Koford (1953) found that California 
Condors often did not roost at the same place each night, and that 
they were likely to roost near a carcass until the carcass was consumed. 

The time at which vultures began arriving at the roosting area 
varied. In late spring, vultures might not arrive until 1.5 hours before 
sunset, while in early and mid-summer there were vultures on the 
tower by 2.5 hours before sunset. Arrival times also varied from day 
to day. When a storm front approached, the birds returned to the 
roost earlier than when the weather was clear and calm. In strong 
wind the birds formed a “wind-flock,” all oriented at the same angle 
to the wind, their bodies parallel to one another. The flock glided 
laterally without making headway, so that it appeared to be “hang- 
ing” over the roost. Koford (1953) observed the same behavior in 
California Condors. On 12 June, when skies were completely over- 
cast and the wind was strong and gusting, I saw a wind-flock near the 
roost about 6 hours before sunset. On the same day, 2.5 hours 
before sunset, 34 birds were at P Ranch. 

Although many Turkey Vultures perched on the tower, the main 
roost at night was the trees. Nauman (1965) observed Turkey 
Vultures near Columbus, Ohio, coming into a roosting area and 
perching as early as 3 to 4 hours before sunset then moving to their 
final roost approximately 45 minutes before sunset. Koford (1953) 
found that California Condors first roosted high on a cliff or in trees 
high on the side of a mountain, and later, shortly before or after 
sunset, moved to lower elevations. 

There are likely several advantages in this pre-roosting behavior. 
In Coles’ (1938) study, Turkey Vultures pre-roosted in what he called 
“sunning trees.” These were dead trees without foliage or shade, 
which allowed the vultures to arrive and depart with ease. He noted 
that after long periods of “preening, resting and wing-spreading,” the 
birds moved from these trees to their final roost. At P Ranch, the 
tower played the same role as Coles’ sunning trees. The tower, con- 
structed of widely spaced bars and located in an open meadow, 
allowed unobstructed landing and departure. As with sunning trees, 

126 


TURKEY VULTURE ROOSTS 


the tower was not shaded and thus provided good conditions for 
carrying out the preening, sunning and stretching activities 
characteristic of Turkey Vultures. The steel tower also provided 
stable perches for the sometimes vigorous movements required in 


r\ 



Figure 1. Tower at P Ranch, Malheur NWR, Harney County, Oregon, used by 
Turkey Vultures as a pre- and post-roost. 


127 


TURKEY VULTURE ROOSTS 


preening. Finally, the pre-roost served as a site for what were often 
intense agonistic encounters. 

After sunset, the nature of activity at the pre-roost began to 
change. Preening ceased and many vultures flew, hopped or walked 
to new perching sites. Some movements were a result of agonistic 
encounters, while others appeared to be spontaneous. During this 
period of increased movement, many vultures left the tower for the 
trees. Those that stayed on the tower generally moved to the upper- 
most levels. By 45 minutes after sunset there was little or no visible 
movement on the tower. Those vultures that flew directly to the trees 
rather than the tower demonstrated a period of preening and 
agonistic encounters similar to that seen on the tower, with all visible 
activity ceasing shortly before darkness. 

In the morning, many vultures returned from the trees to the 
tower, in this case using the tower as a post-roost. On 23 of 34 morn- 
ings (68%), over half of the birds to use the post-roost that day were 
at the tower by 15 minutes after sunrise. On the remaining 32% of 
the mornings, the vultures flew to the tower gradually, either singly 
or in small groups, the number on the tower reaching a peak shortly 
before the birds began to depart the roosting area. For each of the 
mornings when the birds were not disturbed at the roost, I used the 
peak number of birds on the tower just before departure as an 
estimate of the number of vultures using the tower that morning. Of 
those 35 mornings when the birds were not disturbed, the mean 
number of vultures post-roosting on the tower was 59. Thus, each 
day roughly half of the vultures roosting in the trees used the tower 
as a post-roost. Observation of marked vultures indicated that in- 
dividual vultures did not use the pre-roost and post-roost every day. I 
assume that most vultures used the tower at least occasionally. Coles 
(1938) described Turkey Vultures in Ohio flying after sunrise to 
favorite sunning areas where they remained until soaring conditions 
developed. Koford (1953) reported that California Condors usually 
changed their perching sites at least once before departing in the 
morning. In McGahan’s (1972) study, Andean Condors flew from 
shaded roosting ledges to sunny perches before they began foraging. 
These descriptions of cathartine behavior, together with my observa- 
tions, indicate that preening, stretching and sunning are the primary 
activities of post-roosting vultures, and that the outstanding require- 
ment of a post-roost is sunshine. 

The vultures’ departure time from the roosting area was taken to 
be that time (in minutes after sunrise) when the number of vultures 
on the tower had decreased to one half the peak number of vultures 
on the tower that morning. On over half (55%) of the mornings the 
vultures departed the roosting area between 3 and 4 hours after 
sunrise. When a breeze was blowing, the mean departure time (146 
128 


TURKEY VULTURE ROOSTS 


minutes after sunrise) was significantly lower than the mean depar- 
ture time when there was no breeze (191 minutes after sunrise; 
group comparison t-test, p<0.05). On 3 mornings in April there 
were periods of rain, snow and persistent wind. Then, with skies 
generally overcast and temperatures below freezing, the vultures left 
earlier than in the summer. If rain or snow was falling, some vultures 
would not leave the roost all day. Generally, soaring conditions are 
poor during periods of rain (Pennycuick 1972). The Turkey Vulture 
is capable of surviving several days without food (Hatch 1970) , prob- 
ably as an adaptation to an opportunistic feeding niche. Thus, if flight 
conditions are poor, a vulture should be able to remain at the roost 
for 1 or 2 days or more, until flight conditions improve. 

Presumably Turkey Vultures left the roost when there were suffi- 
cient thermals for soaring. But social facilitation apparently affected 
departure time. The first birds to depart usually flew directly off 
without circling. However, when one or more vultures began circling 
nearby after flying from the roost, other vultures often took off and 
joined the circle. Several birds in succession would then leave the 
roost or post-roost. This was likely a response to a visual cue, which 
is substantiated by the presence of vultures in the trees that would not 
join a circle formed by birds from the tower, presumably because the 
tree vultures did not see the circling behavior. When a bird circled in 
front of the trees, out of sight of birds on the tower, only vultures in 
the trees joined the flight. 


SUMMARY 

During spring and summer of 1973, I observed movements of 
roosting Turkey Vultures at a large roost in southeastern Oregon. 
About 100 vultures perched in a row of cottonwood trees each night, 
and used a tall observation tower as a pre- and post-roost. Daily 
variation in arrival times was related to fluctuations in weather. After 
sunset, most vultures on the tower flew to the trees to spend the 
night; about half of the roosting vultures returned to the tower after 
sunrise the following morning. The tower provided a sunny site for 
preening, sunning and agonism. The requirement for such sites is 
shared by other cathartine vultures, most notably condors. On over 
half of the mornings the Turkey Vultures left the roosting area be- 
tween 3 and 4 hours after sunrise. The time of departure was most 
influenced by wind and perhaps social facilitation. The widespread 
occurrence of social roosting and the associated pre- and post- 
roosting phenomena among cathartine vultures suggests that these 
behaviors are a vital component of these species’ survival strategies. 


129 


TURKEY VULTURE ROOSTS 


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

I wish to thank the foilowing persons: Charles H. Trost of Idaho 
State University, who was my advisor on this project and who 
reviewed the manuscript, John O. Sullivan, who suggested the topic 
of research and who helped design the study, and my parents, 
Frederic and Jean Managhan Davis, for their continued support. I 
am also grateful to Carl B. Koford and Sartor O. Williams, III, for 
their comments on an earlier draft. 


LITERATURE CITED 

Coles, V.E. 1938. Studies in the life history of the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura 
septentrionalis) . Ph.D. Thesis. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY. 

Hatch, D.E. 1970. Energy conserving and heat dissipating mechanisms of the Turkey 
Vulture. Auk 87:111-124. 

Koford, C.B, 1953, The California Condor. Natl. Audubon Soc., Res. Rep. 4, 

McGahan, J. 1972, Behavior and ecology of the Andean Condor. Ph.D. Thesis. 
Univ. Wisconsin. 304 p. Univ. Microfilms, Ann Arbor, MI. 

Nauman, L.E. 1965. Spatial distribution in a Turkey Vulture roost. M.S. Thesis. Ohio 
State Univ., Columbus, OH. 

Pennycuick, C.J. 1972. Soaring behavior and performance of some East African 
birds, observed from a motor-glider. Ibis 114:178-218. 

Accepted 18 October 1979 



130 


Sketch by Tim Manolis 


DISTRIBUTION, BIOLOGY, AND STATUS OF A 
RELICT POPULATION OF BROWN TOWHEE 
(Plpllo fuscus eremophllus) 

BART CORD and JOSEPH R. JEHL, JR., Hubbs/Sea World Research Institute, 
1700 South Shores Road, San Diego, California 92109 

The Inyo Brown Towhee ( Pipilo fuscus eremophilus) is a relict 
population of a species that was formerly widespread in the 
southwestern United States and northern Mexico (Davis 1951). A 
member of the Crissalis group of subspecies, eremophilus became 
restricted to mountain areas in the northern Mojave Desert as a result 
of climatic changes beginning in the Pliocene (Davis 1951). Current- 
ly it is known only from the Argus Range of Inyo County, California 
(Cord and Jehl 1978, contra AOU 1957) (Figure 1). The nearest 
neighboring population, P. /. carolae (formerly kernensis) occurs 65 
km due west in the Walker Basin of the southern Sierra Nevada. 

Like all other races of P. fuscus, eremophilus is considered resi- 
dent (Davis 1951). It was described by Van Rossem (1935) on the 
basis of specimens he collected at Mountain Spring (1400 m) and 
Lang Spring (1830 m) in the southern Argus Range, and from a 
single specimen taken by F. Stephens at “Searle’s Garden” (Fisher 
1893). 1 

Because of its limited and largely inaccessible range, which is rare- 
ly visited by ornithologists, very little is known about the biology, re- 
quirements, or population size of this isolated desert dwelling race. 
We attempted to gather such data at the request of the Desert Land 
Plan staff of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. 


METHODS 

In May-June 1978 Cord visited water sources in the Argus Range 
between Indian Joe Spring and Stone Canyon, with the exception of 
La Motte Spring (Figure 2). Surveys were restricted to riparian 
habitats because they provide the only towhee nesting habitat in the 
Argus Range; the surrounding area is high desert. Extensive hiking 
was required, usually through trailless canyons with steep slopes and 
rugged rock formations. 


'The exact location of “Searle's Garden" has been disputed. We (Cord and Jehl 
1978) have argued that it is immediately adjacent to Indian Joe Spring, which is in 
southern Inyo County, and not in San Bernardino County as suspected by some 
(e.g., AOU 1957). 

Western Birds 10: 131-156, 1979 


131 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


Whenever a towhee was observed, a 50 pace toe-point transect 
was taken to the nearest riparian habitat to provide precise data on 
vegetative components. Other data collected were: legal description 
of site, description of locality, water flow (gpm), stream length, area 
of free surface water, mean water depth, major plant species, area of 
riparian growth, degree of recreational use, and evidence of use by 
burros. Photographs were taken at each water source and at each 
locality where towhees were found. 

In late 1978 Cord discovered extensive riparian growth in the 
Quail Spring-Benko Canyon area, in the center of the apparent 



Figure 1. The range of Brown Towhee populations in California (stippled). The 
range of the Inyo Brown Towhee (solid) is confined to the southern Argus Range. 

132 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


range of eremophilus. Supplementary field work was carried out in 
that area in April-May 1979, as well as in a few areas surveyed in 
1978. In both years, the extent of riparian habitat was carefully mapped. 

Field work in fall and winter 1978-79 was aimed at determining 
eremophilus ’ status and requirements at those seasons and in- 
vestigating the possibility of seasonal dispersal or emigration. Detailed 
descriptions of the habitat and of the itinerary are available in Cord’s 
field notes; copies are on file at the Bureau of Land Management, 
Riverside, California, and Hubbs/Sea World Research Institute. 

RESULTS 

DISTRIBUTION 

In May-June 1978, towhees were found at only 6 of 24 areas in 
the southern Argus Range (Table 1): Indian Joe Spring, Great Falls 
Basin, Crow Canyon, North Homewood Canyon, Ruby Spring, and 
Mountain Spring Canyon (Figure 3). None were found in 10 canyon 
areas (20 water sites) in the northern Argus. In April-May 1979, 
towhees were present in 8 of 10 areas in the southern Argus, in- 
cluding the following additional localities: Shelf Canyon, Rusty Can- 
yon, Green Canyon, Benko Canyon, Layne Canyon, and the Bob- 
cat Canyon-Water Canyon complex (Figure 4). No further studies 
were made in the northern Argus. However, in response to the 
report of a possible sighting in the Coso Mountains, just to the north 
of the Argus Range, Cord visited Black Spring on 8 May; he found a 
lone Green-tailed Towhee ( Pipilo chlorurus) . 

In both years, all 12 sites combined, a total of 75 birds (including 
three nestlings in one nest) was recorded. This figure is conservative. 
Desert towhees are difficult to census in the rugged canyon country, 
because they have large home ranges and often remain silent and 
hidden in dense riparian cover. 

P. f. eremophilus is evidently confined entirely to the southern 
Argus Range of Inyo County. Thirty-six percent of the sightings were 
made within a circle of 3 miles diameter centered at Benko Canyon, 
and 100% within an 11-mile circle. The vast majority of the sightings 
(85%) were made within a 6-mile circle; most of this land is within 
the confines of China Lake Naval Weapons Center (Figure 2). 

Towhees are more common on the east side of the Argus, ap- 
parently because of the larger riparian habitats there. Their absence 
from the northern Argus seems due to lack of habitat; soil formation 
is poor, water sources are few and widely scattered, and riparian 
vegetation is scanty. There were, and still are, active mines at almost 
every water source in the northern Argus, which has further depleted 
riparian growth. In some areas only Squaw Waterweed ( Baccharis 
sergiloides ) remains; it does not provide nesting habitat (see below). 


133 



o 5 io 15 

MILES 

Figure 2, The Argus Range area. Numbers refer to the major spring or canyon areas visited in 
this study. 1) Indian Joe Spring (+ Searle’s Garden); 2) Great Falls Basin; 3) Crow Canyon; 4) 
Moscow Canyon; 5) Benko Canyon complex (includes Shelf Canyon, South Homewood Can- 
yon, Rusty Canyon, Benko Canyon, Benko Spring and Green Canyon); 6) North Homewood 
Canyon, Ruby Spring, Layne Canyon; 7) Mountain Spring Canyon; 8) Water Canyon-Bobcat 
Canyon complex (includes Coyote Spring); 9) Shepherd Canyon; 10) Onyx Mine area (3 
springs); 11) Revenue Canyon; 12) Snow Canyon; 13) Thompson Canyon; 14) Stone Canyon 
(French Madam Spring, Jack Gunn Spring); 15) Black Spring, Coso Mountains. The Inyo 
Brown Towhee is confined to the area within the circle. 


134 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 



135 


Figure 3. Mountain Spring Canyon, site 5. Two pairs of towhees are estimated to inhabit this area 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 



136 


Figure 4. Coyote Spring, at the head of Water Canyon. One pair of towhees is estimated to occur here. 


Table 1. Distribution, habitat parameters, and population size of Inyo Brown Towhees, Argus Range, Inyo County, California 1978-1979. 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


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Table 1. (Cont.) 


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KEY : A — Arroyo Willow ( Salix lasiolepis) 

B — Waxy Bitterbrush ( Purshia glandulosa) 
C— Fremont Cottonwood ( Populus fremontii) 
F— Mountain Joint Fir (Ephedra viridis) 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


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141 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


NESTING HABITAT 


Brown Towhees require dense shrubby thickets for nesting and 
open area in the vicinity for foraging (Grinnell and Miller 1944). Ac- 
cording to Davis (1951) the foraging area may be almost any open 
place providing the necessary food. 

In the Argus, Brown Towhees forage among the sparse, widely 
spaced vegetation on the desert hillsides. The substrate there is large- 
ly decomposed granite with little soil and little or no litter. The dense, 
shrubby thickets required for nesting and shelter occur only where 
there is a year-round supply of water, which only a spring can pro- 
vide. When the flow is sufficient, it may generate a small stream a 
foot or two wide, bordered by dense patches of Arroyo Willow ( Salix 
lasiolepis) or, in a few areas, Yellow Willow (S. lutea) or Narrow-leaf 
Willow (S. exigua) . If the stream continues below the surface, the 
willows are replaced by Tanglebrush ( Forestiera neomexicana) . This 
appears somewhat like an odd, stiff, opposite branching willow, but 
is a member of the olive family. In these thickets the substrate con- 
sists of a shallow soil layer and a thin layer of litter, usually less than 6 
mm deep. Waxy Bitterbrush ( Purshia glandulosa), Great Basin 
Sagebrush ( Artemisia tridentata) , and Rubber Rabbitbrush 
(Chrysothamnus nauseous hololeucus) , members of the desert scrub 
plant community, occasionally intermingle with Tanglebrush along 
the drier edges. 

Squaw Waterweed, a bright green chest-high shrub grows com- 
monly near water in the Argus Range, especially in poor and very 
shallow soils. Where the soil is better, it is replaced by Salix sp. and is 
restricted to the fringes of the riparian growth. Towhees were never 
seen using this shrub. Fremont Cottonwood ( Populus fremontii), 
Desert Wild Grape (Vitis girdiana ) and Western Raspberry (Rubus 
leucodermis ) were used by towhees when in association with 
desirable willows, but those three species are seldom found in the 
Argus. 

At the 40 sites where towhees were observed, 35 were dominated 
by or contained extensive stands of Arroyo Willow, 2 by Yellow 
Willow, 2 by Narrow-leaf Willow, and 1 by a mixture of Tanglebrush, 
sage and Mountain Joint Fir ( Ephedra uiridis) (Table 1). Evidently 
the willow species and Tanglebrush provide preferred habitat for 
towhees during the breeding season. (Narrow-leaf Willow is found 
only in Great Falls Basin and Crow Canyon, where it is rather abun- 
dant; towhees have been seen passing through it, but it is not known 
whether it is actually used for nesting.) 


142 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


WATER 

Many birds rely on water sources in the Argus Range. Even 
Costa’s Hummingbird {Calypte costae), which Grinnell and Miller 
(1944) called “xerophilous in extreme degree,” was twice observed 
drinking. However, the towhee was not, and Miller and Stebbins 
(1964) never observed drinking by the resident towhee (P. /. 
senicula) in Joshua Tree National Monument. 

At Mammoth Mine (Mountain Spring Canyon, Site 4), where 
there was no surface water, a singing towhee was present. Site 2 in 
Great Falls basin contained at least three towhees in 1978; no more 
than 1 ft 2 of surface water was available. At some sites with abundant 
water and over 4000 ft 2 of apparently suitable willow habitat, 
towhees were not present. These observations suggest that the 
presence of standing water enhances an area’s suitability, but may 
not be essential. Dawson (1954) reported that P. /. senicula needs to 
drink daily and that some individuals from the Los Angeles area were 
unable to survive high environmental temperatures (39° C) if depriv- 
ed of drinking water for 24 hours. On the other hand, Abert’s 
Towhee (P, aberti), a species of the Colorado Desert, was able to 
survive those conditions. Since the environment of eremophilus is 
more like that of aberti than of senicula, perhaps the Inyo race can 
tolerate moderate water deprivation. 

Miller and Stebbins (1964:251-252) have considered how water 
resources might affect the distribution of Brown Towhees in Joshua 
Tree National Monument, and their remarks seem pertinent to the 
Argus population as well. In the Monument towhees occur “where 
water is permanently available . . . [they] must have good shade dur- 
ing the maximum heat period of each summer day and that even 
with this protection they may need to take on water if sustained high 
temperature prevails for many days. Possibly, then, this species can 
tolerate neither dense or open brush ... without water sources. 
There is, then, a climatic factor, namely high summer heat, which in 
a sense may bound the species in the desert area and which can be 
overcome only by use of water. Dense brush may help but alone 
may not provide enough relief.” 


SONG, PAIRING, TERRITORIALITY 

The vocalizations of P. /. petulans described by Childs (1968) 
presumably apply to eremophilus as well. Basically, petulans males 
defend territorial boundaries using chip notes from early spring until 
the start of nesting. Song is given almost exclusively by unpaired 
males, which begin singing in late January. 


143 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


In two springs Cord heard eremophilus sing only once. On 18 
June 1978 he heard the repeated call-note of a towhee, then watch- 
ed as the bird worked its way to the top of a large cottonwood, where 
it sang twice. No mate was observed. Even chip-notes were rarely 
heard from the desert towhees, which suggests that they had paired 
and established territories before spring observations commenced. 

We do not know when pairs are established. Evidently, as with 
other races of Brown Towhee (Davis 1957: 148, Marshall and 
Johnson 1969) eremophilus remains in pairs year-round. In this 
study (all seasons combined) 70 of 98 adults (71%) were associated 
with one other bird, presumably the mate; on 24 (of 35) occasions 
members of the presumed pair were within 1 m of each other. Since 
no songs were ever heard with the exception noted above, we 
assume that most lone individuals in spring represented birds tem- 
porarily parted from the mate. Several observations showed 
members of a pair separating by distances of up to 400 m. In fall and 
winter pairs seem even more closely associated; 83% of the sightings 
were of two birds. 

Cord observed only one overt display of territorial behavior. On 9 
May 1979 he flushed from the desert shrub a towhee which sought 
shelter in the nearest riparian growth. Immediately thereafter two 
birds flew straight up from the riparian vegetation for about 7 m, 
pecking and clawing at each other. One then perched 5 m above the 
ground in a yellow willow, and the other quickly flew off. The 
apparent resident then dropped into, the Tanglebrush and shortly 
reappeared with another bird. In the next 7 minutes they made two 
sorties of about 20 m to the edge of the desert vegetation, then 
returned to the willows. Cord was unable to determine if they were 
carrying food. 


LOOKOUTS 

Commonly a towhee was seen in the upper branches of a shrub 
(usually Tanglebrush or willow) or dead tree. Often, if not disturbed, 
a second bird would soon appear and the pair would perch together 
for several minutes. These “lookout posts” or lookout-headquarters 
(Davis 1957) were used repeatedly. 

Of other races of fuscus, Davis (1957) remarked: “Trees may be 
utilized as song or lookout posts if they are present in conjunction 
with the primary habitat, but they are not necessary.” Where trees 
were not present, Tanglebrush was preferred, probably because it is 
stiffer and sways less in the strong winds that sometimes swirl 
through the canyons. Once Cord watched a pair battling fierce gusts 
of wind that literally upturned birds and branches; they refused to let 
go or retreat into the shelter of the thicket. 


144 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


When approaching a nest at Ruby Spring, the parents landed in 
the lookout. After feeding the nestlings, they worked their way back 
to the lookout and surveyed the situation before returning to the 
desert to forage. 

FORAGING 

Brown Towhees spend most of their time foraging in open terrain 
(Davis 1957: 157), which in the case of eremophilus is provided by 
the open desert hillsides. Typically they land on high boulders, look 
over the area, then fly to small rocks and scan the bare ground. They 
often hop and flutter-fly across the open areas, looking for food, but 
rarely stop to peck and never scratch, as there is no litter on the bare 
ground to make scratching necessary. They seem to feed mainly on 
insects in spring, but the only specific food seen was a bluish-green 
insect, which an adult carried to the nest. Virtually all their time on 
the desert seems to be spent in active foraging. 

Towhees were never seen foraging within the riparian vegetation, 
either on the ground or among the branches. We cannot preclude 
that possibility, because the willows and Tanglebrush are so dense 
that one cannot see into them. However, Cord spent long periods 
sitting quietly inside thickets known to be inhabited but never saw the 
birds feeding there. 

Because of the rugged terrain and obstructed lines of sight in the 
mountain canyons, it is difficult to obtain precise data on foraging 
ranges. The birds may fly directly into the desert, or fly along the 



Figure 5. Distances at which Inyo Brown Towhees were observed foraging from 
nearest riparian vegetation. 


145 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


streambed for 200-300 m before disappearing around the bend. 
They have been seen foraging as much as 400 m from nesting 
habitat, but more than half of Cord’s observations were made within 
70 m, and 90% within 300 m, of riparian situations (Figure 5). The 
nesting pair at Ruby Springs normally fed 100-300 m from the nest 
area. 

Although these observations reflect observer bias, most observa- 
tions being made in the proximity of the streambeds, we believe that 
most foraging is done within about 250 m of the nesting areas. Some 
circumstantial evidence comes from Water Canyon, which appears 
to offer the best riparian habitat anywhere in the Argus but which is 
evidently unused. The canyon walls there are extremely steep and 
the talus slopes are deviod of vegetation. The only towhee recorded 
appeared at dusk, briefly chased a singing House Finch ( Carpodacus 
mexicanus), and then dropped from the rim of the canyon into the 
vegetation. We suspect that the bird used the area only for roosting 
and that foraging areas were too distant to permit its use for nesting. 


NESTING AND PRODUCTIVITY 


Essentially nothing is known of the nesting biology of eremophilus. 
At Berkeley, P. /. petulans begins nesting in mid-April and some 
pairs may nest three times in one season. Incubation, by the female 
alone, requires 11 days; the fledging period is 8 days. Young may re- 
main with the adults for 4-6 weeks if there is no renesting (Childs 
1968:608). 

Prior to this study, Mountain Spring Canyon was the only 
established nesting place for eremophilus (specimen, 22 May 1935, 
Appendix I). Subsequently, Cord found a nest at Ruby Spring on 16 
May 1978; it was 1 m above the ground in a 1.3 m rabbitbrush and 
closely canopied by Tanglebrush, which shaded and hid the nest. 
Placed on several tiny horizontal branches, it contained three small 
young (bodies unfeathered, pin feathers on primaries) and one egg. 
Both parents returned and scolded when Cord examined the nest. 

The meager data suggest that the peak of nesting is in early May. 

During the spring surveys, Cord observed only adult towhees. 
Even though surveys in 1978 were made into late June, he saw no 
juveniles at any time (except the nestlings noted above). Although 
the desert towhees are silent near their nesting areas, and the young 
may be inconspicuous among the thick vegetation, it seems unlikely 
that adults feeding young would be completely undetected, especial- 
ly since the adults spend so much time seeking food. Thus, indica- 
tions that productivity may be low cannot be confirmed. Productivity 
could be adversely influenced by the sparseness of food and the 


146 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


distance adults must forage from the nest on the open desert. This 
would seem especially important during the hotter months, when 
activity might be suppressed during the heat of the day, leaving too 
little time for food gathering. 


SPATIAL REQUIREMENTS AND ESTIMATED POPULATION SIZE 

Vegetation along canyons in the Argus Range is not continuous 
but occurs in patches as determined by water resources. In Table 1, 
each area consisting of at least 2000 ft 2 of riparian growth has been 
termed a “site.” Single pairs of towhees occupied sites ranging from 
3750 ft 2 (Indian Joe Spring), to 30,000 ft 2 (Ruby Spring). Some 
large areas of apparently suitable habitat (e.g. Water Canyon) seemed 
unoccupied. Evidently acceptability involves a combination of factors 
including composition of plant community, distribution of vegeta- 
tion, and proximity to suitable foraging conditions as well as total size 
of riparian area. 

As noted, towhees prefer sites that are dominated by Arroyo 
Willow or similar species, and which are in close proximity to desert 
foraging areas. We estimate that the minimum riparian area required 
for nesting is 4000-5000 ft 2 (e.g., Green Canyon, Site 4; Great Falls 
Basin, Site 3; Rusty Canyon, Site 6) . Whether smaller areas are used 
by unpaired birds is unknown. Twice a single bird was seen foraging 
near Rusty Canyon, Site 1, a 2000 ft 2 area dominated by 
Tanglebrush. That site, however, is only 1200 ft from Site 4, a prime 
area including 15,000 ft 2 of Arroyo Willow; towhees were not 
observed there. Since towhees forage widely, the allocation of the 
bird to Site 1 is suspect. Towhees were never seen in riparian areas 
smaller than 2000 ft 2 . 

The configuration of the habitat is also important. In the Argus 
most patches of riparian vegetation are strongly linear and form a 
fringe along the stream course. The densest concentration of 
towhees occurred near the confluence of Green and Benko canyons, 
where four pairs inhabited a narrow stretch of scattered willows; ad- 
jacent pairs were seen at intervals of approximately 450 feet, which 
generally corresponded to the distribution of the willows. Marshall 
and Johnson (1968) reported that P. /. mesoleucus pairs were 
generally spaced 900 feet apart and that the nests of adjacent pairs 
were no closer than 525 feet. 

In estimating the total population size of eremophilus, we have 
assumed that a nesting pair requires a minimum of 4000 ft 2 of 
riparian habitat but further that a minimum of 450 feet of riparian 


147 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


habitat is required in areas where the vegetation is linear. 2 Thus, the 
large Ruby Spring site (30,000 ft 2 } is judged to hold only a single pair 
because the configuration of the vegetation is largely circular, the 
largest linear dimension, 300 feet, being too small to accomodate the 
spacing requirements of more than one pair. Using these assump- 
tions, we calculate that the maximum number of Inyo Brown 
Towhees in 1978-79 is 138 (Table 1). 

The table is subjective— necessarily. Some areas which apparently 
meet our criteria were judged not to shelter towhees because the 
vegetation was too sparse (e.g., Benko Canyon, Site 4) or because 
sites were not 450 ft from a larger area to which we ascribed a 
breeding population. And in a few areas (e.g., Coyote Spring) we 
assumed the presence of towhees on the basis of our estimation of 
the quality of the habitat, even though none were observed. We 
estimated Great Falls Basin Site 13 (29,000 ft 2 ) to hold only the two 
pairs observed even though the extent of the vegetation (1000 ft) 
might accomodate an additional pair. We have not explained all of 
these inconsistencies in detail, but reasons for them are evident in 
Cord’s field notes. However, our treatment of the Water Canyon- 
Bobcat Canyon area requires elaboration. Inasmuch as only a single 
bird was seen there in 2 days of intense study, and because hillsides 
immediately adjacent to ostensibly excellent breeding habitat do not 
provide good foraging areas, we surmise that towhees do not breed 
there, even though the riparian area is extensive enough to support 
up to seven pairs (Figure 6) . 

No area in the northern Argus was sufficiently large to meet the re- 
quirements outlined above. Evidently the lack of sufficient riparian 
habitat is responsible for the absence of towhees there. 

FALL AND WINTER OBSERVATIONS 

Eremophilus has been considered a year-round resident of the 
desert mountains. There are no specific records for mid-summer 
(Appendix I), and its fall and winter status are unknown. On 19-20 
November 1978, Cord surveyed Mountain Spring Canyon and part 
of Great Falls Basin and found only a single bird in areas where 
towhees were present the previous spring. Davis (1951) searched 
Mountain Spring Canyon on 18 December 1948 without success. In 


2 The only exception was at Indian Joe Spring, which consists of 3750 ft 2 of riparian 
growth. However, water from Indian Joe Spring flows into a flat area about 100 feet 
long by 30 feet wide, Searle’s Garden, that is contiguous with that site. In the latter 
area, surrounded by Creosote Bushes, Burrobush, Bladder Sage and other desert 
scrub, a dozen overgrown fig trees grasp the edge of the stream; a pepper tree, an ap- 
ple tree, a peach tree and even a mesquite are obvious transplants. The total area of 
Searle’s Garden-Indian Joe Spring complex is 6750 ft 2 . 


148 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 



149 


Figure 6 Water Canyon, site 2 Towhees were not found in this area Apparently the steep canyon walls, talus slopes and the lack 
of foraging areas in the immediate vicinity of the nesting habitat make it unsuitable, even though adequate vegetation is present 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


both years it had snowed shortly before the surveys, and Davis 
(1951) suggested that the birds might descend to lower altitudes in 
winter. However, two specimens ascribed to eremophilus were col- 
lected in January and March along the foothills of the Sierras (see 
below) which suggested that part of the population might winter in 
willow scrub areas along streams that emanate from the Sierras. 
(Wintering in open desert habitats is highly unlikely since, except for 
the populations in the Argus Range and Joshua Tree National 
Monument, the only records for the California deserts at any season 
pertain to scattered individuals wintering along the foothills of the 
San Bernardino Mountains or Sierra Nevada; Jehl et al. 1977.) 

To determine whether eremophilus might winter along the base of 
the Sierras, in early January 1979 we surveyed all likely areas of 
willow scrub in the vicinity of Hwy. 395 between 10 km north of 
Lone Fine (Moffat Ranch Road) and the Ridgecrest area, and along 
Hwy. 14 between Jawbone Canyon and Ridgecrest. In most areas 
we found flocks of wintering birds including Rufous-sided Towhees 
(Pipilo erythrophthalmus ) . The only Brown Towhees, a pair seen on 
a desert hillside, 1.2 km from Isabella Lake, Kern County, were 
within the range of the resident race, carolae. 

We also investigated several areas of desert scrub on hillsides and 
major washes along Highway 136 between Lone Pine and Panamint 
Springs. In addition, Cord surveyed several areas on the east side of 
the Argus Range north of Trona. No Brown Towhees were found, 
even though mixed flocks of wintering fringillids were present in 
some areas. 

On 13-14 January Cord returned to the breeding area and 
revisited Indian Joe Spring (plus Searle’s Garden), South 
Homewood Canyon (four sites) and Great Falls Basin; he also ex- 
amined desert hillsides in adjacent areas to 1 158 m elevation. Eleven 
towhees were counted. The meager evidence suggests that towhees 
are year-round residents that may wander to lower elevations or 
disperse onto the desert during harsh weather. 

We have little ecological information for fall and winter. Evidently, 
the birds roost in the dense riparian vegetation and by day disperse to 
the open sagebrush-covered hillsides. Large tree-sized willows seemed 
to be ignored, the birds preferring to roost in or retreat to more shrubby 
cover. Areas of large willows which had held towhees during the 
breeding season were vacant. 

During the breeding season, towhees were never observed peck- 
ing the ground and presumably spent most time foraging for insects. 
In winter on the same hillsides they do peck on the ground, feeding 
on seeds. They seem to forage mainly on the warm south-facing 
slopes. On cloudy days they seem less likely to venture far from the 
riparian habitats. 


150 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


The birds remain in pairs through the winter. Scott Horton (field 
notes) found two pairs feeding on desert slopes at Great Falls Basin 
on 3 November 1977. Of the 11 birds observed in January 1979, 
there were three pairs, a group of four (two pairs?) and one single 
bird. Previous authors (Davis 1951, Childs 1968) have indicated that 
Brown Towhees remained paired year-round. 

FUTURE PROSPECTS 

The Inyo Brown Towhee requires adequate riparian habitats in 
proximity to desert foraging areas. The latter are plentiful, but 
riparian areas are few and scattered. They are also susceptible to 
rapid degradation as a result of changes in available water due to in- 
creased usage by man and livestock or changes in water output from 
the aquifer. 

The drying of springs is potentially disastrous for the towhee; as 
water flow declines, willow and Tanglebrush disappear and may be 
replaced by Squaw Waterweed or other species that the towhees do 
not use, or, eventually, by desert plants. This has happened at a few 
sites: Onyx Spring in Onyx Canyon; French Madam Spring and Jack 
Gunn Spring in Stone Canyon. 

In the northern Argus many water sources have been and still are 
used by miners, with a general trampling of vegetation and packing 
of soil, making it habitable only for plants such as Squaw 
Waterweed. The effects of mining activities are particularly pro- 
nounced in the lower reaches of Shepherd Canyon, Revenue Can- 
yon, Snow Canyon, in all three springs around Onyx Mine, and in all 
of Thompson and Stone canyons. Peoples Spring, near Great Falls, 
which can be reached by ordinary car on a gravel road, is so badly 
trampled that only rushes and grasses grow there, even though water 
is plentiful. 

Uncontrolled livestock pose further problems. Wild burros occur 
throughout the entire Argus Range, except at Water Canyon, which 
is apparently too steep and rocky for them. They seem especially 
abundant in Moscow Canyon, where a herd of 18 was observed 
drinking. Their evidence — hoofprints, droppings, browse marks — is 
everywhere. Their “burro baths,” which may be 10 feet in diameter, 
destroy all vegetation and create miniature dust bowls. Though bur- 
ros do not normally browse on willows and Tanglebrush, they push 
through the bushes to obtain water if it is not more readily available in 
open situations. In doing so, they trample plants, compact soils, and 
make mudholes out of beautiful springs (Figure 7) . 

Riparian areas in the Argus used by towhees are mostly confined 
to a very small area in the southern mountains. Most are within the 


151 




INYO BROWN TOWHEE 



152 


Figure 7. Moscow Canyon, site 5. The vegetation has been severely depleted by burros and no towhees are present 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


confines of the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake; Great Falls 
Basin, Indian Joe Spring, and Benko Spring are outside the military 
area. They can be reached by hiking but not by off-road vehicles. 
Because human access to most of the towhee’s range is under 
military jurisdiction, the possibility of further human recreational 
disturbance to water sites seems minimal. It can be controlled with 
the cooperation of local authorities and the education of those using 
the area for mining, hunting, or recreation. Burros are a more impor- 
tant problem, as it is impossible to restrict their activities to areas 
away from water sites. Indeed, the continued presence of 
unregulated burro populations in the California deserts has 
significance for the entire fauna and flora that far transcends the 
status of the Inyo Brown Towhee. 

Although we have followed the AOU (1957) in considering 
eremophilus as a distinct race, we note that it is very weakly differen- 
tiated from some other members of the Crissalis group, especially 
kernensis (Grinnell and Behle 1937, Davis 1951) from the Walker 
Pass area of Kern County, and carolae, a wide-ranging form in 
northern California. Whether eremophilus, as an isolated population 
at the terminus of a dine, would be accorded formal taxonomic 
recognition in a modern revision of the species is debatable. We take 
no position on that subject as we have not been able to critically com- 
pare the limited specimen material. However, because there is so 
much overlap in size and color, and color differences are com- 
plicated by foxing and fading, the identification of single specimens 
would seem impossible. The assignment of extralimital birds must 
therefore be treated cautiously, even skeptically, and we are not 
necessarily convinced that the Lone Pine and Mojave specimens 
(Appendix I) are either correctly identified or identifiable. 

What is important, however, is not taxonomic ranking, which will 
vary with time and philosophy, but the existence of a remnant 
population of a formerly widespread species that has successfully 
adapted to extreme conditions which are not fully duplicated 
elsewhere in the species’ range. The value of such populations for 
evolutionary and biological studies has been amply demonstrated, 
and the continued existence of the desert towhee is a matter of 
legitimate concern. 


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

We are grateful to Tilly Barling, Carolyn Shepherd, and Tom 
McGill, Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, for granting access to 
government property. The following curators provided information 
on specimens in their trust: Amadeo Rea, Richard L. Zusi, Kenneth 


153 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


C. Parkes, Ralph Schreiber, Laurence C. Binford, Robert W. Storer, 
Thomas R. Howell, Wesley E. Lanyon, and Eugene A. Cardiff. We 
are especially indebted to William Laudenslayer and Kristin Berry of 
the Desert Land Plan Staff for their help and encouragement in all 
phases of the research, and to John Davis for his helpful criticisms of 
the manuscript. This study was supported by funds provided by the 
Bureau of Land Management. 


SUMMARY 

The Inyo Brown Towhee (Pipilo fuscus eremophilus) is a desert- 
inhabiting towhee confined to the southern Argus Range of Inyo 
County, California. It represents an isolated, relict population of a 
species formerly widespread in the southwest. 

The towhees are wary and difficult to census in the rugged desert 
canyons. We estimate the current population at 72-138 individuals. 
The entire population is confined to a circle of 11-miie diameter 
centered at Benko Canyon. Most of this area is within the Naval 
Weapons Center, China Lake. 

This towhee requires a minumum of 4000 ft 2 of riparian vegetation 
dominated by Salix lasiolepis, S. lutea and/or Forestiera neomex- 
icana for shelter and nesting. In areas where the vegetation is strong- 
ly linear, a single pair required approximately 450 feet of continuous 
riparian growth. Apparently the birds do not require standing water. 

Foraging is accomplished on open, desert hillsides. 

Towhees remain in pairs year-round on the breeding grounds. 
They may descend to lower elevations in winter, but there is no un- 
equivocal evidence of dispersal away from the immediate vicinity of 
the Argus Range. 

The peak of the breeding season seems to occur in May. Produc- 
tivity is unknown; only one nest was found and no juveniles were 
seen during two springs. However, the riparian vegetation is so 
dense that young birds would be virtually undetectable. 

The major adverse impact on this desert towhee is the destruction 
of riparian habitat by past or present human activity (mining, recrea- 
tional use) and by wild burros, which trample vegetation and com- 
pact the soil. 

P. /. eremophilus is a poorly-marked race and does not differ 
strongly from other members of the crissalis group. The limited 
specimen material is reviewed in an Appendix. 


154 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


LITERATURE CITED 

American Ornithologists’ Union. 1957. Check-list of North American birds, 5th ed., 
Am. Ornithol. Union, Baltimore, MD. 

Childs, H.E., Jr. 1968. The Brown Towhee. Pp. 603-619 in A.C. Bent, ed. Life 
histories of North American cardinals, grosbeaks, buntings, towhees, finches, 
sparrows and allies. U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull. 237. 

Cord, B. and J.R. Jehl, Jr. 1978. Distribution, status, and ecology of the Inyo Brown 
Towhee ( Pipito fuscus eremophilus) . Hubbs/Sea World Res. Inst. Tech. Rep. 
No. 78-114. 

Davis, J. 1951. Distribution and variation of the Brown Towhees. Univ. Calif. Publ. 
Zool. 52:1-120. 

Davis, J. 1957. Comparative foraging behavior of the Spotted and Brown towhees. 
Auk 74:129-166. 

Dawson, W.R. 1954. Temperature regulation and water requirements of the Brown 
and Abert towhees, Pipiio fuscus and Pipilo aberti. Univ. Calif. Publ. Zool. 
59:81-124. 

Fisher, A.K. 1893. Report on the ornithology of the Death Valley expedition of 1891 . 
N.Am. Fauna 7:7-158. 

Grinnell, J. and W.H. Behle. 1937. A new race of Brown Towhee, from the Kern 
Basin of California. Condor 39:177-178. 

Grinnell, J. and A. H. Miller. 1944. Distribution of the birds of California. Pac. Coast 
Avif. 27. 

Jehl, J.R., Jr., S.I. Bond and P. Unitt. 1977. Annotated bibliography of seasonal 
movements of migratory and resident birds in the California desert. Hubbs/Sea 
World Res. Inst. Tech. Rep. No. 77-105. 

Marshall, J.T., Jr., and R.R. Johnson. 1968. Canyon Brown Towhee. Pp. 622-630 
in A.C. Bent ed. Life histories of North American cardinals, grosbeaks, buntings, 
towhees, finches, sparrows, and allies. U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull. 237. 

Miller, A H. and R.C. Stebbins. 1964. The lives of desert animals in Joshua Tree 
National Monument. Univ. California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. 

Van Rossem, A.J. 1935. A new race of Brown Towhee from the Inyo region of 
California. Trans. San Diego Soc. Nat. Hist. 8:69-71. 


155 


INYO BROWN TOWHEE 


APPENDIX I. Specimens of Pipilo fuscus eremophilus 1 


Date 


Locality 

Museum No. 

Sex 

Collector 

25 Apr 1891 

Searle’s Garden 

USNM 135848 

M 

Stephens 

31 Jan 

1905 

Mojave, CA 

USNM 195885 

M 

Hollister 

22 Mar 

1919 

Lone Pine 


F 

Smith 

22 May 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 2 

SDNHM 17082 

M 

van Rossem 

22 May 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17083 

M 

van Rossem 

22 May 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17084 3 

F 

van Rossem 

23 May 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17085 

M 

van Rossem 

23 May 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17086 

F 

van Rossem 

24 May 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17087 

M 

van Rossem 

27 Oct 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17333 

F 

van Rossem 

27 Oct 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn, 

SDNHM 17334 

F 

van Rossem 

27 Oct 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17335 

M 

van Rossem 

27 Oct 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17336 

M 

van Rossem 

17 Nov 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17340 

F 

van Rossem 

17 Nov 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17341 

M 

van Rossem 

17 Nov 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17342 

M 

van Rossem 

17 Nov 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17343 

F 

van Rossem 

17 Nov 

1935 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

SDNHM 17344 

M 

van Rossem 

27 May 

1940 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

MVZ 80366 



8 Nov 

1940 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

UMMZ 117124 

M 

Stager 

8 Nov 

1940 

Mtn. Spr. Cn. 

UMMZ 117125 

F 

Stager 

25 Feb 

1975 

Indian Joe Cn. 

SBCM 30284 

M 

Ardahl and Wessman 


1 Based on museum records provided by the Desert Land Plan, examination of the 
literature, inquiries to museum curators and/or personal inspection of the following collec- 
tions: San Diego Natural History Museum, U.S. National Museum of Natural History, 
Carnegie Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, California Academy 
of Sciences, the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, University of California, Los 
Angeles, 

2 Several specimens taken in 1935 from Mountain Springs Canyon, including the type, are 
labeled “Lang Spring, 5500' elevation”; one specimen in the type series gives the eleva- 
tion as 6000 ' , The exact locality of Lang Spring is not known. Today there is no towhee 
habitat in the area higher than 5500 ' . 

3 Mate 17083; parent 17082 


Accepted 12 October 1979 


156 


NOTES 


TIMBER HARVEST MODIFICATION AROUND 
AN ACTIVE OSPREY NEST 

JOHN K. ADAMS, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Region 4, 
Ogden, Utah 84401 

VIRGIL E. SCOTT, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 
Denver Wildlife Research Center, Denver, Colorado 80225 


Ospreys ( Pandion haliaetus ) are generally found along seacoasts and on or near 
large bodies of inland waters. They frequently nest in areas where timber is harvested. 
It is important to know something about tolerance to timber harvest activities, especial- 
ly during the nesting season . 

Management suggestions for this bird range from merely leaving the nest tree un- 
molested (Melo 1975), to not cutting within 100 to 150 m of an Osprey nest during 
non-nesting periods and no closer than 0.4 km to an active Osprey nest (Lind 1976). 
Melo (1975) reported a successful Osprey nest where nesting had begun in 1975 
before timber harvest started. Timber harvest operations came within 30 m of the nest 
snag and the only special treatment was not to fell the nest snag or to “brush” the snag 
with felled trees. The nest was not occupied in 1976 although Ospreys did construct a 
nest nearby (Melo pers. comm.). Ospreys returned in spring of 1977 and nested at the 
site of the 1975 nest. 

We report here on some harvest modifications around an active nest in Arizona dur- 
ing summer 1972. This nest is located in the Ponderosa Pine ( Pinus ponderosa ) 
timber type on the Black River District, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The nest, 
located on top of a broken Ponderosa Pine snag 81 cm DBH, overlooks the high, 
steep canyon wall of the Black River where the Ospreys forage. A 16 ha management 
unit was established around the Osprey nest and about 30% of the 22 m 2 /ha basal 
area was removed during summer of 1972. Timber was cut as close as 61 m from the 
nest on the north where the Osprey’s view of workers was somewhat obstructed by a 
ridge. Timber was not harvested closer than 100 m from the nest in any other direc- 
tion. Skidding within the management unit was done with horses in June when two 
young were in the nest. Although logging was not permitted within 61 m of the the 
nest, there was a haul road 30 m from the nest. 

The Osprey behavior was monitored during 1972 with a time-lapse camera placed 
in an adjacent tree. The Ospreys displayed alarm whenever anyone approached the 
nest or when log trucks passed by, but continued to nest and fledged two young. 
Ospreys have continued to use the nest each year through 1979. Nearby snags were 
used as perch sites and Ospreys were seldom observed perched on the nest tree ex- 
cept on the nest. We do not know if the nearby snags were necessary but they were 
used under existing conditions. We suggest they be left for other snag dependent 
wildlife as well as for Ospreys. 

Melo (1975) and Lind (1976) expressed two extremes in management recommen- 
dations but these extremes may not always be practical. Melo presented data for only 
1 year on minimum modifications, which was to leave the nest tree unmolested. 


Western Birds 10: 157-158, 1979 


157 


NOTES 


Ospreys failed to use the nest the next year following timber harvest, but did return 
and nest the second year after harvest. Our observations indicate that timber harvest 
can occur closer to an active nest than the 0.4 km suggested by Lind. Probably the 
more realistic harvest modification that will still permit continued nesting by Ospreys 
lies somewhere between those suggested by Lind and Melo. We suggest that timber 
harvest be restricted to a minimum of 100 m from established Osprey nests during any 
period of year until sufficient data have been collected to indicate that closer harvest 
will not be harmful. 


LITERATURE CITED 

Lind, S. 1976. Production, nest site selection, and food habits of Ospreys on 
Deschutes National Forest, Oregon. M.S. Thesis, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis. 
53 pp, 

Melo, J. 1973. Logging around an Osprey nest site— an observation. J. Forestry 
73:724-725. 


Accepted 26 November 1979 



Sketch by Narca Moore 


158 


NOTES 


CANADA GOOSE ESTABLISHED AS A 
BREEDING SPECIES IN SAN FRANCISCO BAY 

W. Z, LIDICKER, JR. and F.C. McCOLLUM, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 
University of California, Berkeley, California 94720 


We report here on 20 years of records which establish the Canada Goose (Branta 
canadensis) as a breeding bird in the San Francisco Bay area. In California, this 
species is generally not considered to breed regularly south of the northeastern corner 
of the state (Kortright 1943:86, Johnsgard 1975). Occasional breeding records have 
been recorded for the Lake Tahoe area (Grinnell and Miller 1944), and more recently 
from Bridgeport Reservoir in Mono County (Gaines 1977;6), Additional instances of 
breeding are known from a reservoir east-southeast of Marysville, Yuba County (F. 
Kozlik, Calif. Dept. Fish and Game, pers. comm.). In the spring of 1932 a single pair 
nested on Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo County (Moffitt 1939). Starting in 
1959, however, a breeding colony became established on Brooks Island, Contra 
Costa County, and has probably bred there every year since that time (2 to 16 adults 
seen each year). 

In the course of other biological investigations (e.g., Lidicker 1966, 1973), we have 
regularly observed the bird life of Brooks Island since early 1958. From 1965 to the 
present we have been assisted by caretakers employed by the Sheep Island Gun Club. 
In 1969 the East Bay Regional Park District purchased the island, but the Gun Club 
continued to occupy the island through a leasing arrangement. In the early years we 
frequently visited the island, whereas more recently, less frequent trips have been sup- 
plemented by information from caretakers. We therefore have fairly continuous 
records over this 21 year interval except for one year, June 1963 to August 1964. 

Brooks Island is about 22 ha in size and lies southwest of Point Richmond. It is 
covered largely by grassland and brush, and possesses no mammalian predators. 
Several freshwater ponds and two springs are present. A small, grass-topped islet, 
relatively inaccessible to humans, lies 210 m offshore to the west. For a more detailed 
description of the island and an aerial photograph, see Lidicker and Anderson (1962) . 
The island is now an Educational Preserve within the East Bay Regional Park District 
systerm, and is scheduled for limited access management, with a resident caretaker. 

The first observation of nesting Canada Geese on Brooks Island was in spring 1959 
(Table 1). Of course, we cannot be absolutely confident that they did not nest there 
previously. We are convinced, however, that they were not there in 1958, and other 
biologists visited the island regularly for several years previous to that (Anderson 
1960). Moreover, the initial observation was of a single pair with a brood of five gos- 
lings. Their origin is unknown, but it may be significant that the two adults present in 
1963 were noticeably disparate in size. 

The birds tend to arrive in early spring and leave sometime in the summer (Table 1) . 
In the winter of 1977-1978 the geese arrived unusually early (17 December 1977). 
Thus, they exhibit migratory behavior, and we presume they can therefore be con- 
sidered wild birds. They certainly behave like wild birds, and in the early years at least 
they were always extremely wary. In only one case, an adult seen on 3 April 1965, did 
an individual appear to tolerate the close approach of humans. Recently, some of the 
caretakers on the island have offered food to the geese, making them less wary. 

We have unequivocal evidence for nesting in only 11 of 18 springs when observa- 
tions were possible (Table 1). It seems likely, however, that because of the extreme 
secretiveness of the birds and the fact that we were not making any special efforts to 
observe them, nesting attempts may have occurred in all the other years as well (ex- 
cept perhaps 1960) and we simply failed to record them. Generally, only a single 
clutch was attempted. In 1975, however, there were definitely two clutches, and we 


Western Birds 10: 159-162, 1979 


159 


NOTES 


suspect two clutches were raised in 1971 and 1972 as well. In 1973 one definite and a 
second possible nest site were observed. Assuming that the suspected double clutches 
are real, minimum clutch (brood) size in this population varied from 4 to 8 with a mean 
of 5.9 (n = 13) , Kortright (1943:88) reports that clutch size in this species ranges from 
4 to 10 with 5 or 6 being usual. Johnsgard (1975: 139) reports averages ranging from 
4.6 to 5.7, and Bellrose (1976) considers clutches over 8 to represent dump laying. 


Table 1. Summary of Canada Goose (Branta canadensis ) records for Brooks Island, 
Contra Costa Co., California. 


Year 

Earliest 

date 

recorded * 

Latest 

date 

seen 

Maximum 

numbers 

seen 

Max. no. 
goslings 
(date) 

Date 

nest 

observed 

1959 

9 May 

— 

2 

5 (9 May) 

— 

1960 

— 

— 

- 

— 

— 

1961 

22 April 

21 May 

2 

6 (23 April) 

— 

1962 

22 April 

15 July 

5 

tt 

— 

1963 

24 March** 

5 May 

2 

— 

— 

1964 

— 

— 

— 

- 

— 

1965 

21 Feb. 

3 April 

16 

— 

-- 

1966 

— 

— 

— 

— 

— 

1967 

12 April 

— 

2 

— 

12 April 

1968 

24 March 

— 

2 

6t (?) 

— 

1969 

1 1 April 

— 

5 

— 

— 

1970 

28 March 

1 Sept. 

15 

— 

— 

1971 

27 March 

30 July 

6 

15 1 (early 
summer) 

— 

1972 

6 March 

22 Aug. 

3 

10 (18 April) 

— 

1973 

4 April 

26 Aug. 

10 

— 

4 April 
(6 eggs) 

1974 

29 April 

— 

5 

— 

— 

1975 

8 April 

27 July 

6 

9 (13 May, 
27 June) 

— 

1976 

23 Feb. 

Late Aug.t 

3 

5t (April) 

— 

1977 

8 Feb. 

6 June 

4 

7 (19, 27 
April) 

— 

1978 

17 Dec. 1977J 

— 

IX 

— 

— 

1979 

23 Feb. 

26 April 

5-7 

7 (26 April) 

— 


* Adult birds or fresh goose droppings present. 

* * Heard only. 

t According to caretaker on Island. 

tt Two goslings raised at Berkeley dump; see text. 


160 


NOTES 


We have only limited data on gosling survival. In some years, e.g. 1973 and 1974, 
apparently no young survived. In other cases, only a few goslings survived to fledging 
(3 out of 5 in 1976, and 2 out of 7 in 1977) . However, in two of the years with double 
clutches, survival to fledging was excellent (9 out of 10 in 1972, and 9 out of 9 in 
1975). These double broods were combined into one creche, and generally were 
tended by only two adults. Successful production is also indicated by the increase in 
the adult population to 16 birds by 1965, and possibly by breeding occurrences in 
nearby areas starting in 1961 (see below). Other studies have also indicated that gos- 
ling survival can be quite variable (Bellrose 1976:162). Summarizing reproductive 
performance in this population, we can say that there is no evidence that it is subnor- 
mal for the species. 

In the two instances in which a bird was definitely observed to be incubating (Table 
1) , both nests were located in the open grass on top of the small islet to the west of the 
main island. In other years, also, pairs of adults were seen frequenting the islet. We 
feel that this is a prime nesting site, probably because of its relative protection from 
human disturbance. However, in such an exposed site hatchlings would be quite 
vulnerable to gull predation. From behavioral observations, we suspect that three 
other sites have also been used by nesting geese. One is near the south end of the 
island where several fresh water ponds are located at the base of a steep slope. This is 
a favorite resting area for the geese, and fairly inaccessible nesting sites are on the 
slope above the ponds. The second area is on a long spit of sandy fill which is 
associated with a rock breakwater extending northwesterly from the island. The final 
site (1979 only) is on a small rocky promontory at the north end. 

The successful establishment of Canada Geese in the San Francisco Bay area 
represents an extension of their breeding range of either about 300 km southward and 
westward from the Klamath Basin and Honey Lake region, or 270 km westward from 
Mono County. Breeders from both these areas are placed in the subspecies moffitti 
(Johnsgard 1975, Gaines 1977). In addition to the small but persistent Brooks Island 
population, another breeding colony, established as recently as 1967, has been 
reported for Bay Farm Island in Alameda County (Remsen and Gaines 1973). A pair 
of adult geese with four young were also seen near the Oakland Bay Bridge toll plaza 
in April 1961 (Cutler and Pugh 1961), and, lastly, a pair nested successfully on the 
Berkeley dump (5 km SE Brooks Island, in Alameda Co.) in 1962 (Garland 1965). 

Whether these Bay Area breeding birds are derived from moffitti, from some other 
form that winters in central California, or from escaped captive birds, remains uncer- 
tain. Cogswell (1977) feels that the Bay Area breeding records involve birds referable 
to moffitti. Remsen and Gaines (1973) suggest that the Bay Farm Island group was 
derived from a semicaptive population resident on Lake Merritt (Oakland, Alameda 
Co.) . The Lake Merritt population was apparently derived from moffitti stock, and has 
nested successfully since at least 1956 (Cogswell 1956) . Of course, both the Bay Farm 
Island birds and the Berkeley dump pair could have been derived from surplus Brooks 
Island birds. Perhaps, when information becomes available on the movement patterns 
of these birds outside of the breeding season, additional clues to their origin (s) may be 
forthcoming. 

Regardless of the sources of these Bay Area breeding geese, they seem to be 
established and merit further study. It would be of interest, for example, to learn more 
of the food habits of these new populations. In view of the largely fresh water and 
vegetarian predilections of this species, it is not at all clear what features of the Brooks 
Island and Bay Farm Island habitats are critical to it. Surprisingly, broods on Brooks 
Island are most often seen on salt water. Detailed investigation of these populations 
would thus be of general interest as well as possibly critical to their survival into the 
future . 


161 


NOTES 


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

We would like to express our appreciation to the Sheep Island Gun Club for access 
to Brooks Island from the summer of 1965 onward. Special thanks are due to the 
caretakers Nellie and Sam Blanford and AI Betancourt for providing valuable informa- 
tion, and for sharing our interest and enthusiasm for the Brooks Island geese, Richard 
Erickson generously called our attention to a number of Canada Goose records which 
we had overlooked. Our colleague Ned K, Johnson kindly reviewed this manuscript in 
an early draft. 


LITERATURE CITED 

Anderson, P.K. 1960. Ecology and evolution in island populations of salamanders in 
the San Francisco Bay region. Ecol. Monogr. 30:359-385. 

Bellrose, F.C. 1976. Ducks, geese, and swans of North America. Stackpole Books, 
Harrisburg, PA. 

Cogswell, H.L. 1956. Winter season. Middle Pacific coast region. Audubon Field 
Notes 10:275-280. 

Cogswell, H.L. 1977. Water birds of California, Univ. Calif. Press, Berkeley, CA. 
Cutler, B.D. and E.A. Pugh, 1961. Nesting season. Middle Pacific coast region. 
Audubon Field Notes 15:489-492. 

Gaines, D. 1977. Birds of the Yosernite Sierra: a distributional survey. Calif. Syllabus 
Press, Oakland, CA. 

Garland, W. 1965. (Photograph with caption) Outdoor Calif. 26(10):11. 

Grinnell, J. and A.H. Miller. 1944. The distribution of the birds of California. Pac. 
Coast Avif. No. 27. 

Johnsgard, P.A, 1975. Waterfowl of North America. Indiana Univ. Press, 
Bloomington. 

Kortright, F.H. 1943. The ducks, geese and swans of North America. Am. Wildlife 
Inst., Washington, D.C. 

Lidicker, W.Z., Jr. 1966. Ecological observations of a feral house mouse population 
declining to extinction. Ecol. Monogr. 36:27-50. 

Lidicker, W.Z., Jr. 1973. Regulation of numbers in an island population of the 
California Vole, a problem in community dynamics. Ecol. Monogr. 43:271-302. 
Lidicker, W.Z., Jr. and P.K. Anderson. 1962. Colonization of an island by Microtus 
calif ornicus, analysed on the basis of runway transects. J. Anim. Ecol. 
31:503-517. 

Moffitt, J. 1939, Notes on the distribution of Whistling Swan and Canada Goose in 
California. Condor 41:93-97. 

Remsen, V. and D A. Gaines. 1973. The nesting season. Middle Pacific coast region. 
Am. Birds 27:911-917. 


Accepted 15 May 1979 


162 


NOTES 


CASSINS SPARROW -FIRST RECORD FOR 
WYOMING AND RECENT RANGE EXTENSIONS 

CRAIG A. FAANES, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55111 
(Present address: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research 
Center, Jamestown, North Dakota 58401) 

BRUCE A. HANSON, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northern Prairie Wildlife 
Research Center, Jamestown, North Dakota 58401 

HAROLD A. KANTRUD, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northern Prairie Wildlife 
Research Center, Jamestown, North Dakota 58401 


On 8 June 1978, Faanes observed a male Cassin’s Sparrow ( Aimophila cassinii ) 
2.5 km SW of Columbine, Natrona County, Wyoming. Observations were made from 
1110-1120. Weather conditions consisted of a clear sky, temperature about 21 °C and 
a light wind. Light conditions allowed for a clear view from 8-10 m. 

When observed, the bird was perched on a Greasewood ( Sarcobatus uermicuiatus ) 
shrub. Its song, heard three times, consisted of a high trill, slightly lower at the end, A 
call note, described as “tsseet,” also was heard. The bird skylarked on several occa- 
sions, and upon reaching its zenith, began singing and “parachuting” to the ground, in 
a manner similar to the flight song of McCown’s Longspur ( Calcarius mccownii). This 
behavior suggested the bird was on a breeding territory, or advertising for a mate. 

Other characteristics of the bird, recorded during the observation, included: 
medium sized sparrow, similar in size and shape to Song Sparrow ( Melospiza 
melodia). Bill light gray throughout, broad at the base, and conical. Head slightly 
rounded in back, with a sloping forehead. Crown mottled gray, with auriculars lighter 
gray than the remainder of the head. Wings short, rounded and gray, darker than 
back, with a small yellow area at bend of wing. In flight, outer primaries and coverts 
dark gray, grading to light gray-brown from the secondaries to the body. Back gray, 
mottled with brown and with gray extending onto the rump. Underparts uniform gray 
throughout. The rounded, dark gray tail appeared rather long for the size of the bird. 

Two Brewer’s Sparrows (Spizella breweri) nearby allowed direct comparison with 
the Cassin’s Sparrow. Major differences separating the two species included the 
presence of wingbars, white eyestripe and darker bill of the Brewer’s. Song differences 
between the two species were also noted. 

General habitat characteristics associated with the Cassin’s Sparrow included a dry 
clay soil on a moderately steep south and southwest-facing slope. Vegetation of the 
area included sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and Greasewood, as predominant 
shrubs. Blue Grama ( Bouteioua gracilis), Green Needlegrass ( Stipa uiridula) and 
Plains Prickly Pear ( Opuntia polycantha) were common in the ground layer. 

Oliver K. Scott (pers. comm.) confirmed this as the first record of Cassin’s Sparrow 
for Wyoming. The AOU Check-list (1957:603) describes the breeding range of this 
sparrow as extending from northern Mexico (southern Coahuila) through Texas and 
Arizona, northward to central-western Kansas and central Colorado. Bailey and 
Niedrach (Birds of Colorado, Denver Mus. Nat. Hist., 1965:809) cite a 1961 range 
extension of this species to southeastern Weld County near Buckingham, Colorado. 
Nebraska Bird Review (42:56-57, 1974) contains a description of a nest found in 
Perkins County, Nebraska, on 5 June 1974. Cassin’s Sparrows were also reported 
during the 1974 breeding season in Garden, Hayes, Lincoln and Morrill counties, 
Nebraska. Richard Rosche (Suppl. 1 to 1977 Checklist of birds of northwestern 
Nebraska and southwestern South Dakota, privately printed, Crawford, Nebraska, 
1978) observed a singing male Cassin’s Sparrow on 12 June 1977 near Ardmore, Fall 
River County, South Dakota. This represents the first occurrence of this species in that 
state. 


Western Birds 10: 163-164, 1979 


163 


NOTES 


On 11 June 1976 Hanson and Kantrud recorded Cassin’s Sparrows and Brewer’s 
Sparrows as common in sandy Chrysothamnus grasslands 6.4 km SE of Illiff, Logan 
County, Colorado. This habitat type extends for about 100 km just south of and 
parallel to the South Platte River in Morgan, Washington, Logan and Sedgwick coun- 
tries. A disjunct tract of these choppy sands also appears on the 1:250,000 US 
Geological Survey topographic map (Scottsbluff, NK 13-9) as an area extending about 
8 km into Deuel County, Nebraska, to within about 5 km of Chappell. On 12 June 
1976 Hanson and Kantrud investigated this area and found about 10 territorial male 
Cassin’s Sparrows in W 1 /2NW 1 /4, Sec. 16, T12N, R45W. Two singing males were col- 
lected (USNM 568059, 568060; testes both birds 5x8 mm). Brewer’s Sparrows, 
Grasshopper Sparrows (Ammodramus sauannarum) and Lark Buntings (Calamospiza 
melanocorys ) also were common. 

Cassin’s Sparrows were again observed in the Chappell, Nebraska area on 5 June 
1979, when Faanes recorded two singing males 1.6 km east of the site discovered by 
Hanson and Kantrud in 1976. 

The habitat in both locations was dominated by rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus 
nauseosus), Prairie Sandreed (Calamouilfa longifolia), Red Three-awn ( Aristida 
longiseta) , Needle-and-Thread (Sfipa comafa) and Downy Brome ( Bromus 
tectorum) . Important forbs included Western Sagebrush (Artemisia campestris) , prick- 
ly poppy ( Argemone polyanthemos) , Plains Prickly Pear and Lemon Scurf Pea 
(j Psoralea lanceolata ). 

The general aspect of this habitat is very similar to Cassin’s Sparrow habitat described 
by Hubbard (Am. Birds 31:933-941, 1977) as “grassland in which grow scattered to 
moderately dense mixtures of shrublike plants.” Hubbard also noted the avoidance of 
pure grassland and dense shrubland by Cassin’s Sparrow. This may explain why this 
species is apparently restricted to small areas of choppy Chrysothamnus grassland in 
northeastern Colorado and southwestern Nebraska. 

There are indications that in other areas at the periphery of its breeding range, male 
Cassin’s Sparrows exhibiting breeding behavior and possessing enlarged gonads may 
be non-breeders (Hubbard op. cit.) . Although male territoriality provides a strong in- 
dication of breeding status, confirmation of breeding in peripheral areas must await the 
discovery of nests and/or dependent young. 

Recent movements of Cassin’s Sparrow outside its norma! breeding range in more 
southerly regions have been well documented (Hubbard op. cit.; Witzeman et al . , 
Am. Birds 32:1043, 1978; McCaskie, Am. Birds 32:1057, 1978) Our records suggest 
that similar movements may also occur at the northern limit of the breeding range. In a 
period of only 5 years, Cassin’s Sparrow has apparently extended its breeding range 
into Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota. Maximum extension was the Wyoming 
record, a distance of 350 km. 


Accepted 15 October 1979 


164 


NOTES 


WHITE-TAILED KITE RECORDS FOR ARIZONA 

DAVID H. ELLIS, Institute for Raptor Studies, Box 4420, OM Star Rt., Oracle, 
Arizona 85623 

GALE MONSON, 8831 North Riviera Drive, Tucson, Arizona 85704 

The first documentation of a White-tailed Kite ( Elanus leucurus ) in Arizona was ob- 
tained when Ellis photographed an adult on 11 August 1978 in the Altar Valley, Pima 
County. The record was made along the Elkhorn Ranch (Sabino Canyon) road about 
5 km west of Arizona Route 286 (31° 49' N, 111° 27' W). The photograph is on 
deposit at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of 
Arizona, Tucson (No. 13377). The photograph, although not of good quality, shows 
the following diagnostic features: dark primaries contrasting with light secondaries; 
dark wrist mark on under wing coverts; light head, tail, and underparts; heavily 
feathered tibio-tarsus. The dark lesser coverts of the more distant wing are less clear. 
The general shape of the bird is also characteristic. 

Ellis observed the kite intermittently between 0720 and 0745. It passed within 75 m 
and he saw all diagnostic field characters as well as the kite’s characteristic wind- 
hovering behavior. The general area is a mesquite ( Prosopis julifiora) and grass 
(Bouteloua spp., Aristido spp., etc.) savanna. 

No specimen records exist for Arizona. There are three undocumented sight 
records, all of adults: one along the west side of the Dragoon Mountains, Cochise 
County, 6 November 1972, Douglas Danforth; one over the Blue Point cottonwood 
grove on the Salt River a few miles east of Phoenix, Maricopa County, 25 February 
1973, R. Roy Johnson, Jim and Ann Simpson; and one about 7 km south of the junc- 
tion of Arizona Route 186 with the Kansas Settlement Road, Cochise County, 2 
February 1975 , Sue Burk (all pers. comm ). 

Most probably these kites are emigrants from the population along the southern 
California coast, ca. 550 km distant, or northwestern Baja California Norte. 

Accepted 7 November 1979 



Western Birds 10: 165, 1979 


Sketch by Narca Moore 


165 


NOTES 


NEVADA RECORDS OF ROSEATE SPOONBILL 

C,S. LAWSON, Department of Natural History, Nevada State Museum, Carson City, 
Nevada 89710 (mailing address: 6633 Mountainwood Lane, Las Vegas, Nevada 
89103) 

In the summer of 1977 there was a major flight of Roseate Spoonbills ( Ajaia ajaja ) 
into the lower Colorado River valley of Arizona and California (Witzeman et al.. Am. 
Birds 31:1171-1176, 1977; McCaskie, Am. Birds 31:1188-1192, 1977). At least 12 
individuals reached southern Nevada. The first reported was an immature on 5 June 
at the sewage ponds of the Nevada Test Site, Nye County (Castetter and Hill, West. 
Birds in press, 1979). 

On 28 June I collected one of two individuals discovered on 27 June at the Overton 
Wildlife Management Area (OWMA), Clark County, by Area Manager Roy Horsely. 
The specimen was deposited in the University of Nevada, Reno Museum of Biology 
(UNMB 1838, immature female, ovary 16 x 6 mm, no molt, light fat, weight 307 g) . 
Horsely observed one to two immatures at OWMA intermittently between 28 June 
and 31 July. 

At 2300 1 July Richard Voss was driving north on U.S. 93 about 48 km north of 
Las Vegas, Clark County. Near an area known as Gunsight Pass, he discovered four 
immatures standing in the middle of the highway. He stopped and was observing the 
birds when a passing truck put the birds to flight, striking two of them. One specimen 
(Donald H. Baepler 1478, immature female, ovary 18 x 8 mm, no molt, no fat, 
weight 208 g) will be deposited at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The other 
specimen is in the Nevada State Museum (NSM 1655, immature female, ovary 18 x 
8 mm, no molt, no fat, weight 197 g). 

The specimens described above are the first for Nevada. In addition, there were 
several sight records of spoonbills in the summer of 1977. On 11 July M. Vincent 
Mowbray found two in Las Vegas Wash, Clark County. George Austin found two on 
22 August at Bowman Reservoir, Logandale, Clark County, and another the same 
day at OWMA. All birds observed were immatures. 

I would like to thank George Austin, Roy Horsely, Vince Mowbray and Richard 
Voss for use of their records; Richard Voss for recovering the specimens; George 
Austin and Donald Baepler for specimen preparation. 


Accepted 12 October 1979 


166 


Western Birds 10: 166, 1979 


photo: Hal. H. Harrison 


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168 


Volume 10, Number 3, 1979 


Occurrence and Distribution of the Mottled PerreJ 

David O Ainiey and Bitt Manatis 113 

Morning and Evening Roosts, of Turkey Vultures at 

Malheur Refuge, Oregon Debortrft Paurs \2h 

Distribution* Bidogy. and Status of a Rsftet Population of 
Brown Towhe-e (Ffpf/ti kfrcus ervmaphiiual Bart Cord 
and Joseph R JeJil, Jr. 131 


NOTES 


limbs* Harvest Modification Around an Active Osprey 

SMe.bil John ft Atform and Virgil F Scott 1 57 

Canada Goose Established as- a Breeding Species in San 

Francisco Bay W Z Lldkker T Jr and F.C. McCollum 159 

Casstn's Sparrow - First Record hi Wyoming; and Recent 
Range Extensions Crcrrcj A Fatrnes. Bruce A Hanson 
and Harold A, Kantrud 153 

Whue-taiJfcvi Kile Records for Arizona Dncrid H. EJfts arid 

Gak Monfion 165 

Nevada Records pf Roseate Spoonbill C.S Lawson 165 


Manuscripts should mr sent to Atan M CT& 19 , 3533 Winston Way, C.*i rmtajhaaf, CA 
95608.. For m-shew d style consuli SuggestiErii-. i.> fp Western fjf«& (5 

PP mlm*a availotite si no t:o-J Imm lb' EdiHtfj ar-C C'ou riei. 1 o/ I’rlMuyL- Ed&rcs SiLpfe 
Manual 4th edttlorii 197$ U^wnllabiV from thu Ani^nCBf^ Itfreh I u h 1 -if Biological 
Sci€flC®s, 1401 Wilson Boutevard, ATbnfltCiH. VA 22209 for S12.0D). 

Papers aro desired that Mi* based upan field studies Bf bird*. ihai ..ire both understand 
kbltf -fln d Lii^rful fid ametsml* .*nd that mnkv * >uMjrtifkaiil contribution to ncumilflc 
llteraSuie. Appropriate inXpfc> include diskiibubon, mkpuflofi,, hlntlLh. beJisvtql, 
ecnloflv pop«htlb#i dynamics, hadLrar ffqti itvrnente. ihe effects of pollution Ihr 
tacbnLt^tes for identity™. cerHHjiiriy , sound rtkordlny arid photographing bird* m the 
BeJd. Papers of ttsmefftl imprest Will be cans! dart *ai rt^M-dires of thmir geographic orfgJrc 
bu t paTikuInrly desired are pnfHif & diFnjlflil Wfth il udJes aCeaoipl1*hFd lit CM taimrry of* 
Rocky Mountain rf.il-^ arid pro</inci’5 uresn^uu irwlLidliim AJmka an d Hawaii adla 
C-iinl pOftjoriB of ihe Pacific i kn&ii ^nd Mexico; and western F«ia&i 

Author* ni« pT-iVkied 30 fiei. ic-prun* of w*eh paper Ari|jihorHl rpprtni - q-n he 
ordered al aiithew\ tfupflfiSij- Iftstti (he Edllur When jJtool is relumed or eaibei 

G^xsd photograph* of rdf* ,md unusual hmis unacaromp^riK .1 by an is lick bul with 
option including socles r data-, toealitv and mtu* p*rthun< Iraformqtein. should tw 
submisted eq Stephen A Layrpwih, 329TJ Arkkiy Road, Uikapf.'ift* CA 96453